TWO firms behind a housing estate that polluted a Bradford beck during its construction will donate £135,000 to the Aire Rivers Trust to make amends.

Pitty Beck in Allerton was found to have been polluted multiple times in a two-year period while a new Keepmoat Homes estate was being built.

The developer, which owns the site Heron’s Reach at Allerton Lane in Bradford, will donate £100,000, while Applebridge Construction, a firm contracted by Keepmoat Homes for the first phase of the development, will donate £35,000.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Pitty Beck in Allerton pictured in 2016Pitty Beck in Allerton pictured in 2016 (Image: Environment Agency)

An investigation by the Environment Agency found that Pitty Beck was polluted a number of times between October 2016 and November 2018 while construction was underway. 

The companies submitted Enforcement Undertakings – a voluntary offer made to make amends for any offending - to the Environment Agency, which have now been accepted.

Here’s how the pollution unfolded:

  • In October 2016, Keepmoat Homes reported pollution from its site to the Environment Agency and its was confirmed that silty water was running into the beck. This happened again on “numerous occasions over subsequent months”.
  • At the time the company did not have an environmental permit to allow for treated water to be discharged into the beck.
  • The permit was obtained in October 2017, allowing the discharge of water from one outlet at a maximum rate of no more than 40mg/l of suspended solids.
  • Days later, a discharge containing almost 14 times the allowed suspended solids entered the beck from a different outlet, followed by the first of several permit breaches from the initial outlet containing more than the suspended solids allowed.

As part of the requirements of the Enforcement Undertaking, Keepmoat Homes revised its surface water management plan for the site, constructed urban drainage ponds, purchased a siltbuster and gulley bags to remove sediment from the water leaving site and improved its inspection and monitoring regime. 

Applebridge Construction employed a full-time health and safety manager, reviewed and updated its environmental management system and delivered bespoke training to staff. 

Environment Agency area environment manager Ben Hocking said: “Housing construction companies - like all companies carrying out any major development work - have a responsibility to ensure their work does not impact on the environment and we will take action when pollution occurs.

“While we will always take forward prosecutions in appropriate cases, Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement tool to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements.  

“They allow polluters to restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents by improving their training and procedures.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The polluted waters of Pitty Beck in Allerton, pictured in 2016The polluted waters of Pitty Beck in Allerton, pictured in 2016 (Image: Environment Agency)

Bradford-based environmental charity the Aire Rivers Trust will use the donations on the monitoring and prevention of pollution on Bradford Beck, and to restore riverside habitats across the catchment, including some wetlands at Pitty Beck.

Simon Watts, operations manager at the Aire Rivers Trust, which works to improve the River Aire for both wildlife and local communities, said he was pleased to see the money being spent on restoring Bradford's streams and river.

“We believe the work it will fund will create a lasting impact on the health of the beck that runs through the heart of Bradford," he said. 

Chris Clingo, acting regional managing director at Keepmoat, Yorkshire West, said: “After being made aware of the pollution to Pitty Beck during the construction of Heron’s Reach in 2018, we voluntarily submitted Enforcement Undertakings to the Environment Agency during the same year, to take action as quickly as possible.

"I am very pleased that the Environment Agency has accepted the Undertakings and we are now funding the cleaning of Pitty Beck.

“Since 2018, we have put in place strict measures to ensure this does not happen again, including implementing robust water management plans across our developments, constructing urban drainage ponds where needed, and improving our inspection and monitoring regime.

"We are committed to building sustainable communities that do not harm our natural environment.

“We hope that the funds we’ve donated are being well spent on restoring the health of the beck for today’s local community and future generations.”

Keepmoat was granted planning permission by planners to build 292 homes on the site at Allerton Lane and Cote Lane in May 2016.

Called Heron’s Reach, the development has been built in three phases, with the third, which is ongoing, rebranded to be called Pinnacle earlier this year.

Applebridge Construction was also contacted for comment.