Live events sector
The Glastonbury Festival has admitted causing a drop in water quality in a stream close to the festival’s site, after a sewage tank sprung a leak during the 2014 event. CMU Daily reports that Michael Eavis and the Festival’s Operations Director, Christopher Edwards, both appeared in court in Yeovil after a prosecution was brought against the event by the Environment Agency.
Accepting that “significant” harm had been caused, the Festival challenged the levels of damage claimed by the Environment Agency – and in particular the death of protected brown trout. Representing the festival, Kerry Gwyther said an environmental report found the stream had a history of being of a “poor quality”. Of the 42 dead fish, 39 were recorded downstream and only 10 of these were brown trout, he said.They also disputed that a fine of up to £300,000 should be levied, based on the Festival’s turnover of £37 million that year, saying that the festival’s profit was actually £84,000 before tax. The Festival donates a large proportion of its annual profit to charity with three lead charities, Greenpeace, WaterAid and Oxfam all receiving six figure sums.
In a statement, the Festival acknowledged the 2014 incident, and also a further incident in 2015 relating to festival goers urinating in ditches and highlighting the festivals own environmental efforts, they said “Regretfully however, during the last two festivals (in 2014 and 2015) some pollution has unintentionally made it into the stream running through the site, due to issues including a faulty tank and through festival goers urinating on the land”.
The statement continued: “With the causes already identified and analysed, Glastonbury Festival continues to work with all stakeholders, including the Environment Agency, on ways to prevent and safeguard against any problems in the future. Substantial improvement work on the site’s infrastructure has already begun and will continue over the coming months. At the same time, the festival will again work rigorously with all of its contractors and staff to raise awareness of the environmental issues involved and the importance of preventing further incidents”.
District Judge David Taylor adjourned proceedings for a “Newton hearing” – a private discussion between both sides of a case before a judge – to decide the facts before sentencing.