The Environment Agency has ordered a property company to pay £100,000 to environmental charities in the North East after it was discovered to have dumped waste soil on a site in Northumberland.

Following a site inspection by the Environment Agency at a development near Stannington, Bellway Homes was found to have dumped contaminated soil at the housing development.

Bellway had imported waste soil that contained wood, metal, wire cables, rubber, plastic and vehicle tyres to St Mary's Park - a housing development that was first built in 2016 on the former site of St Mary's Hospital, a former mental health hospital first built in 1910.

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Between 22 November and 12 December 2017 around 2,688 cubic metres of contaminated waste soil was transported to the site from another of their other developments at nearby Five Mile Park. It said this was to build a soil bund around an attenuation pond – which is an artificial pond created to catch excess rainwater.

Bellway Homes said that its consultants had told them it was allowed to import the soil without any authorisation, which was incorrect.

After the visit from the Environment Agency, Bellway submitted an Enforcement Undertaking; a voluntary offer by an offender to put right the effects of their offending, though not a legal admission of guilt. The Environment Agency normally accepts Enforcement Undertakings where they do not believe it's in the public interest to pursue a prosecution.

The Enforcement Undertaking was accepted and the conditions demand that Bellway Homes will pay £50,000 to Northumberland Wildlife Trust, £30,000 to Wear Rivers Trust and £20,000 to Tyne Rivers Trust. They must also improve awareness of the law in relation to soils and waste and review its protocols to prevent future issues.

The Environment Agency first attended the site in February 2019 following a report of illegal waste activity and an enforcement notice was issued. After being moved to another part of the site, the waste was eventually disposed of safely between July and August 2020.

Andrew Turner, Area Environment Manager for the Environment Agency in the North East, said: “Despite being a large and experienced housebuilder Bellway claimed it followed the advice of a consultancy which said it was appropriate to import the contaminated soil.

“We know the waste material being left on site for such a long period of time caused distress to local residents and this has since been cleared.


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“While we will always take forward prosecutions in the most serious cases, Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement tool to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements. It also supports the prevention of repeat incidents by companies improving their procedures to ensure future compliance with environmental requirements.”