(25) Environmental Law

Enforce the Clean Water

Water pollution

Pollutionwater

The Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act 1990

This Act (the 1990 Act) amends and extends the Act and the Fisheries Act 1959 (in so far as the Fisheries Act 1959 relates to water pollution).

Civil liability for pollution

Section 20 of the 1990 Act deals with civil liability for pollution. Section 20 (1) provides that where trade effluent, sewage effluent or other polluting matter enters waters and causes injury, loss or damage to a person or to the property of a person, the person may recover damages. Damages may be recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction for such injury, loss or damage:

(a) from the occupier of the premises from which the effluent or matter originated unless the entry was caused by an act of God or an act or omission of a third party over whose conduct such occupier had no control, being an act or omission that such occupier could not reasonably have foreseen and guarded against; or

(b) if the entry was occasioned by an act or omission of any person that, in the opinion of the court, contravenes a provision of the Act or the 1990 Act, from that person.

Non-application of s 20(1) of the 1990 Act

Section 20(2) provides that s 20(1) does not apply to the entry of trade effluent, sewage effluent or other polluting matter to waters which is under and in accordance with a licence under s 4 of the 1977 Act or s 171 of the Fisheries Act 1959 or is exempted from the application of s 3(1) of the Act by s 3(5) of that Act.

Bye-laws relating to the carrying on of a specified activity

Under s 21(2) of the 1990 Act a local authority may make bye-laws prohibiting the carrying on of a specified activity in all or part of its area, or providing for the regulation of a specified activity, if it considers it necessary to do so for the purpose of preventing or eliminating the entry of polluted matter to waters.

The activities to which s 21 applies are those listed in s 21(1) of the 1990 Act, including any one or more of the following:

(a) the collection, storage, treatment and disposal of any polluting matter used in connection with, or arising from any operation, activity, practice or use of land or other premises carried on for the purposes of agriculture, horticulture or forestry;

(b) any activity that involves the application to land or to grow crops, or the injection into the land, of any silage effluent, animal slurry, manure, fertiliser, pesticide or other polluting matter; or

(c) any other operation, activity, practice or use of land or other premises for the purposes of agriculture, horticulture or forestry.

Offence to contravene any bye-law

Section 21(3) of the 1990 Act provides that it shall be an offence to contravene or fail to comply with any bye-laws made under s 21.

Declaration that a combined drain shall become a sewer

Section 22(1) of the 1990 Act provides that a sanitary authority may declare by order that a specified combined drain shall become and be a sewer for the purposes of the Act and the 1990 Act. Whenever it does so the drain concerned shall, on commencement of the order, become and be a sewer for those purposes.

Section 22(2) of the Act requires the sanitary authority to give written a notice to the owner of the drain and to the occupier of premises from which effluent is being discharged to the drain of its intention to make such an order. The owner and the occupier may, within 30 days of receipt of the notice, then make written representations to the sanitary authority in relation to the proposed order. These representations, if any, must be considered by the sanitary authority before the order is made.

Offences by bodies corporate

Under s 23 of the 1990 Act, where an offence under the Act or the 1990 Act has been committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, a person being a director, manager, secretary or other officer of that body corporate, or a person who was purporting to act in such capacity, that person shall also be guilty of an offence.

Payment of fines to local authority, sanitary authority or regional board

Where a prosecution is brought by a local authority, sanitary authority or regional board, s 26 of the 1990 Act empowers the court, on the application of the local authority, sanitary authority or regional board concerned, to provide for payment of the fine imposed by the court to the relevant local authority, sanitary authority or regional board.

Prosecution of offences

Section 27 of the 1990 Act deals with a number of matters relating to prosecution of offences under the Act. Section 27(a) and (b) stipulate the persons who may bring prosecutions under various sections of the Act. Section 27(c) of the 1990 Act provides that a summary offence under s 21 of the 1990 Act may be prosecuted by the local authority concerned.

According to s 27(d) of the 1990 Act, summary proceedings may be commenced within a period of six months from the date on which evidence sufficient to initiate proceedings comes to the knowledge of the person prosecuting those proceedings. Proceedings may not be initiated later than five years from the date of commission of the offence.

Acertificate signed by, or on behalf of, the person bringing the proceedings, setting out the date or dates on which the relevant evidence came to his knowledge would provide prima facie evidence of those dates, unless the contrary is shown.

Payment of costs of local authority, sanitary authority or regional board

According to s 28 of the 1990 Act where a person is convicted of an offence  under the Act 1977 or the 1990 Act, or s 171 or s 172 of the Fisheries Act 1959, the court shall, unless it is satisfied that there are special and substantial reasons for not doing so, order the person to pay to any local authority, sanitary authority or regional board concerned the costs reasonably incurred by that local authority, sanitary authority or regional board in relation to the investigation, detection and prosecution of the offence, including the costs incurred in taking samples, carrying out tests and examinations and in respect of the remuneration and other expenses of employees, consultants and advisors.

 

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