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A Warwickshire excavator and fleet operator unintentionally allowed sediment from a quarry to enter freshwaters and cause environmental damage.

However, because the environment agency (EA) accepted that the negligence by AT Contracting and Plant Hire was not due to dangerous or foolhardy behaviour, it escaped prosecution.

Instead the company was sanctioned with an enforcement undertaking, which meant it paid £15,000 to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

The EA said the company worked quickly to solve the issue and take full responsibility for the incident, which involved water contaminated with sediment to enter a tributary of Padbury Brook near Barton Hartshorn in May 2018.

In addition to the £15,000 payment, the company completed a number of other actions including stopping the discharge, removing the pollutant from the watercourse and improving water management.

Andrew Raine, EA environment manager, said: “The environment agency is an outcome-focussed regulator, seeking to make sure all businesses work within environmental laws.

“Human error on the part of AT Contracting led to the sediment being allowed to enter the river.

“Following the environment agency’s intervention, AT Contracting worked quickly to contain the incident.

“It has since worked to improve its water management systems to prevent this from happening again in the future.”

AT Contracting holds an international licence in the West of England traffic area for 20 HGVs and 15 trailers.