Big fat fine for café that blocked drains

A restaurant in Wolverhampton has been fined almost £5,500 for blocking sewers with fat, oil and grease in what prosecutors have described as a “landmark case”.

In only the second case of its kind in the UK, Café Saffron in Church Road, Codsall, was discovered to have created a blockage after fat used for cooking was poured down the drain. The fat coagulated in the sewers and left neighbouring businesses unable to flush their toilets.

Under section 111 of the Water Industry Act it is an offence to discharge anything into the sewer that may interfere with the free flow.

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.

“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,” said Emma FitzGerald, managing director of wholesale operations for Severn Trent Water.

The café was ordered to pay a total of £5,495, including costs, at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court. It has now committed to installing a grease trap.

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