Glastonbury Festival fined £31k for pollution

The organisers of Glastonbury Festival, believed to be the world’s biggest music festival, have been ordered to pay £31,000 in fines and costs for pollution offences. More than four kilometres […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The organisers of Glastonbury Festival, believed to be the world’s biggest music festival, have been ordered to pay £31,000 in fines and costs for pollution offences.

More than four kilometres of the Whitelake River was polluted after 20,000 gallons of untreated sewage escaped from a temporary storage tank on a farm at Pilton, near Shepton Mallet, on 29th June 2014.

The pollution harmed water quality, killed more than 40 fish and “effectively wiped out” the local trout population, according to the Environment Agency.

The festival organisers pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing, with the Environment Agency asking the incident from last year’s event involving overflow from a tank fed into by the festival’s ‘long drop’ toilets also be taken into consideration.

Judge Simon Cooper from Bristol Magistrates Court ruled the festival’s actions after the fish kill “had not been negligent and were of low culpability”. Hearing the organisers had been issued a caution after the 2010 festival, he ordered a fine of £12,000 now be paid along with £19,000 costs for the two offences.

Ian Withers, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency said: “While we recognise the Glastonbury Festival provides enjoyment to tens of thousands of people and raises money for a number of good causes, the organisers have a responsibility to ensure it does not cause harm to the environment. The festival is held in a beautiful part of the Somerset countryside and we want to see it remain that way.

“This was a serious pollution incident that had a significant impact on water quality and the fish population of the Whitelake River over some distance.”

The Environment Agency added on-site monitoring has been introduced by the organisers of the festival following a history of water quality problems during the event.