Sewage leak lands church with penalty

A branch of the Church of Scientology has been fined £14,000 for leaking raw sewage into the River Medway in West Sussex.

Scientology Alamy

The leak saw damage to the river’s natural ecology, with fungus and dead wildlife found more than 350 metres from the source of the leak.

Residents complained about leakage only a few weeks after the branch replaced the sewage treatment plant in August 2015.

Inspectors found the new plant was pumping out waste water containing volumes of sewage 10 times over the permitted limit. Samples were taken on 19 occasions, and 10 failed to meet environmental standards.

The court heard that the Church of Scientology Religious Education College had been aware of the longstanding problem and was therefore negligent, but has since spent a lot of money to get the treatment plant operating properly.

In addition to the fine, the defendant was also ordered to pay £2,566 in costs.

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