|LONDON - Industrial pollution in Britain fell in 2003 as regulation and fines forced companies to improve environmental performance, the British government\'s green watchdog said today.|
The UK\'s Environment Agency said the number of cases of serious pollution caused by industry dropped 12 percent from the previous year to 613, with the farming and waste management sectors singled out for having made progress.
\"Our risk-based approach to regulation, developed with business, is working,\" said chief executive Barbara Young, in the agency\'s annual Spotlight on Business report. \"But fines for environmental offences are still far too low.\"
Average fines were little changed at around 8,400 pounds ($15,460), though the heftiest was 232,000 pounds ($426,900) for Cleaning Services Group Ltd, the largest ever for illegal waste management in the UK.
Explosions and releases of toxic chemicals at the company\'s hazardous waste storage plant in Gloucestershire, western England, led to complaints of illness from local residents, the Environment Agency said.
The waste management sector cut cases of serious pollution by about 25 percent, though Eurocare Environmental Services Ltd was given 2003\'s second biggest fine of 100,000 pounds.
The company, which has waste disposal contracts for the National Health Service, was prosecuted after leaving lorries loaded with human tissue and used dressings in car parks.
Personal liability for environmental pollution has increased with 11 company directors fined in 2003, the agency said.
The main repeat offenders were utility companies, prosecuted for letting sewage pollute lakes or streams. Water industry pollution incidents rose around 25 percent from 2002.
Southern Water and Thames Water were landed with bills for 73,200 and 60,000 pounds respectively. Anglian Water (AWG.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and United Utilities (UU.L: Quote, Profile, Research) each got fined nearly 50,000 pounds.
Leaking sewage from toilet facilities at the annual Glastonbury music festival saw it fined 10,000 pounds.
The construction industry was responsible for three percent of pollution incidents or 80,000 tonnes of waste annually. This is increasing with regeneration works, the Agency said.
Greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxide emissions both rose, by five percent and nine percent, on increased burning of coal for power generation, it said.
However, there was less oil-based pollution than previous years. ChevronTexaco (CVX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Rolls Royce (RR.L: Quote, Profile, Research) were both fined 10,000 pounds after oil leaks.
Ford Motor Co. (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research) was given a 42,000 pound bill after pleading guilty to losing a paint spray gun containing radioactive material from a shop in Essex, southern England.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE