Severn Trent wins ‘landmark case’ against restaurant for blocking sewers

Severn Trent has successfully prosecuted a restaurant in Codsall, South Staffordshire for blocking the sewers with fat, oil and grease, in a “landmark case”.

Café Saffron was ordered to pay a total of £5,495, including costs, at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court. This is only the second example of such a case being brought in the UK, and it is a first for Severn Trent.

Blockages had been reported on several occasions, with complaints from neighbouring businesses that they could not flush their toilets. The restaurant was found to have caused the blockage by pouring fat used in cooking down the drain and into the sewer, where it coagulated.

Severn Trent visited the premises on several occasions, sent various letters and had many conversations with the restaurant owners, asking for grease traps to be installed and warning of the consequences, but the owners refused.

Severn Trent managing director of wholesale operations Emma FitzGerald said: “The verdict in this case is an important milestone for us, and we really want this to make other companies think about what they are doing with regards to disposing of fats, oils and grease and how it impacts our customers.

“We clear around 45,000 blockages a year and fat contributes to the majority of those, as it binds together all the other things that end up in the sewer rather than the bin and creates huge lumps which block the sewers.

“This is totally avoidable and in this case, simply installing a small grease trap could have prevented the situation.  Legal action is a last resort for us, but our customers shouldn’t have to suffer because of the actions of one business not following the rules, and ignoring our advice.”

The restaurant has now committed to install a grease trap.

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BDC 305 Jun 2023