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Water Pollution Prevention News

Environment fines, double the usual rainfall, commercial fires

You can run but you can’t hide – one Plymouth man has been extradited from Ireland to face a prison sentence for serious fly tipping. We encountered twice the average rainfall in February, a trend that’s set to grow as climate continues to bite. And, as usual, we’re seeing plenty of commercial fires across the nation.

There’s no escaping environment penalties

26 year old Martin McDonagh has been named and shamed as ‘Plymouth’s worst fly-tipper’ by the newspapers following a less-than-stellar career dumping rubbish illegally was finally stopped.

McDonagh made a habit of picking up rubbish from people’s homes then just dumping it in rural areas. But when he was caught he ran away. Nine days before his court date in 2017 the criminal fled justice to Ireland, later sentenced in his absence to 20 months in prison. He then spent almost three years on the run. A European arrest warrant was issued and McDonagh eventually turned himself in during late 2019. Now he’s been returned to Devon to serve his time in jail.

The judge described McDonagh as a ‘persistent offender who showed a ruthless determination to dump waste wherever it suited.’ Luckily the authorities were determined to catch him and show others who might think fly tipping is a good idea that there’s no escape.

McDonagh pleaded guilty to dumping trash at 18 different locations over a 12 month period. He appeared at Plymouth Crown Court on 24th February to be told he would be sent straight to prison, with an extra six week sentence tacked on the end of the original one for avoiding justice.

We saw twice the average rainfall in February

As reported by the BBC., the February just gone was the wettest since records began way back in 1862. The Met Office says the nation saw an average of 209.1mm of rainfall, 237% above the average for February between 1981 and 2010.

It’s good to know that a new survey of over 1400 people revealed the public are becoming more concerned about climate change. In fact ‘almost a quarter of people’ felt that climate change was the most pressing issue facing the UK right now.

The survey also highlighted how levels of ‘climate concern’ have doubled since 2016, and it’s equally good to know that climate scepticism is dropping fast, with 64% of respondents sure we’re seeing the effects of climate change against just 41% in 2010. On the other hand 64% is not a lot when almost every scientist in the world – bar a very few who are widely-acknowledged as nutty – now says climate change is both real and human-led.

February saw the named storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge dump vast amounts of water across the nation. Dennis managed to drop the second highest UK average daily total rainfall since 1891, and Ciara and Jorge generated enough rain to grab a starring spot in the top 0.5%.

It’s incredibly rare to suffer three ‘widespread extreme rainfall events’ like this in the same calendar month But as the Met Office says, “climate change has increased the likelihood of extreme rainfall events.”

What does all this extra rain mean?

The impact of a climate that’s getting ever-wetter is serious. When more homes get flooded more frequently, more people are unable to afford flood insurance or are unable to even find someone willing to provide it. The government – surely – will ultimately have to step in and compensate people in the absence of insurance.

When businesses are flooded, even if they’re insured they face a clean-up that can take weeks, sometimes months. The nation’s infrastructure is damaged by water as time passes, leaving railways and roads impassible. And the flood waters kill every living creature in a flooded area that can’t fly or swim to safety.

Floods bring sewage pollution into homes and businesses, something that comes with its own tricky clean-up challenges as well as huge potential fines for those who didn’t take reasonable precautions. People are unable to travel, unable to work, unable to live in their homes.

Eventually coastal dwellers will start being driven out of their homes by rising sea levels, as will those who live by rivers or on flood plains. All this is expensive to fix. As you can imagine if all this happens at once, or keeps on happening winter after winter, the economy could quickly take a nasty nosedive.

Experts are already saying that dealing with climate change now will cost an awful lot less now than it will to deal with the aftermath in future. It’s high time the world’s governments and big climate-changing businesses got their act together.

Three cases of commercial Fire

You might find it surprising how frequently businesses suffer from fires. They happen all the time.

Fire crews have been busy in the past couple of weeks tackling a large blaze at a toy distribution business in Blackpool. The fire broke out at Cowley Road in the Marton area of Blackpool at about 7am and it took fifty firefighters from ten fire engines to tackle the blaze. Thick black smoke billowed above the building and some roads were closed.

At the end of February people were evacuated from their homes when a commercial premises caught fire at Calverley Road in Tunbridge Wells, dealt with by six fire engine crews. They used hoses, compressed air foam, smoke curtains and a fog spike to put the fire out and two people were treated for smoke inhalation. Apparently faulty cabling set fire to paper that was stored in a basement.

On 26th February there was a commercial fire in Maidstone as a huge blaze destroyed a restaurant boat on the River Medway. The Embankments Floating Bar and Grill Restaurant caught fire at 8am and flames soon completely engulfed the boat. Three fire engines attended the scene and confirmed there were no injuries.

Stay safe with the right water pollution prevention advice and systems

It’s your responsibility as a business to do everything you can to prevent fires in your business, cut the risk of industrial leaks, prevent water pollution and keep people and wildlife safe from harm. If you’re not 100% certain your business has done everything possible, we’ll be pleased to help you stay safe from environment fines.

David Cole MSEE

David Cole MSEE

Technical Director

David is a pioneer of the spill containment and water pollution prevention industry with 30 years experience. He was instrumental in the development of CIRIA736 with The Environment Agency and is passionate about preventing water pollution.

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