Penrith magistrates in Cumbria, UK, have fined Norgen Hydro Power £5000 after the company pleaded guilty to two offences of illegally taking water from Glenridding Beck, also in Cumbria.

Three other similar offences were asked to be taken into account. Prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency (EA), Jane Morgan told the court that Norgen had been granted a licence to take water from the stream unless the flow rate fell below a stated minimum. On several occasions, visiting licence inspectors had found a natural build-up of gravel around the abstraction point, which had channelled water to the abstraction point and so allowed abstraction to continue when the flow rate was below the permitted minimum. She added that, although the water was eventually returned to the beck after use, this was at a point 2km downstream and was of no benefit to the upstream stretch where the water was being taken.

The court learned that Norgen had taken water from the stream on five occasions when flows were below the permitted minimum, in April, May and June 2000, breaching licence conditions.

Norgen was fined £2500 on each of the two charges and ordered to pay £1800 costs.