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Mash Direct fined by NI Water for illegal sewer discharges

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Tracy and Martin Hamilton from Mash Direct

Tracy and Martin Hamilton from Mash Direct

Tracy and Martin Hamilton from Mash Direct

Northern Ireland vegetable side-dish company Mash Direct has been fined £2,000 for illegal discharges to NI Water's sewage network.

The Co Down company has also been ordered to pay almost £1,000 in legal costs for actions which showed "complete disrespect for the sewer network" according to an NI Water chief.

Mash Direct was founded by Tracy and Martin Hamilton and now has around 200 employees.

It produces around 40 processed vegetable and potato dishes, supplying major chains such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.

The company received a cash boost from HSBC UK to the tune of £10m in January to become more environmentally friendly by installing solar and wind energy machinery as well as a new wastewater treatment facility.

Head of Environmental Regulation at NI Water Andrea Halpenny said the case taken against Mash Direct had been long and frustrating.

"Despite engagement with Mash Direct over a long period of time, the breach of discharge consent was not resolved, which has led to today’s proceedings being taken by NI Water.

"The irresponsible actions of this company towards our assets and those residents living around the area is not a victimless crime and have been reflected in today’s judgment and fine."

She said NI Water's priority is to protect the wastewater network. "If this is threatened in any way, we will step in to resolve it," she said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mash Direct said: "Any incident that impacts our local sewage system is unacceptable and we sincerely regret this accidental breach.

"We fully investigated the matter at the time and have pit corrective measures in place at a cost in excess of £650,000 and NI Water have confirmed that the Company is in full compliance with consent limits.

"Upholding the highest operational and environmental standards is of the greatest importance to us and we continue to monitor all our processing procedures closely."

Belfast Telegraph