The dairy firm offered the payment as part of an enforcement undertaking (EU) offer for its failure in effluent discharge to the River Tern at its facility in Market Drayton in 2018.
Müller was served the EU as a result of three charges of failing to comply with permit conditions – under regulation 38(2) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 – when an inlet screen was bypassed during maintenance works.
Large pieces of fruit passed into the effluent treatment plant, leading to high levels of ammonia in the treated effluent discharged into the River Tern for a period of 15 days in January 2018.
A spokesman for Müller UK & Ireland said: “Our business has operated in Market Drayton for over 30 years, enjoying a good working relationship with the Environment Agency, however we understand this incident in January 2018 fell short of the expectations we set ourselves to be a responsible and sustainable business.
‘No evidence of environmental harm’
“While there was no evidence of environmental harm caused by this incident, we took it very seriously and carried out a formal internal investigation. Following this investigation, we committed to making a number of significant changes at our Market Drayton site to ensure nothing like this could happen again.
“The business spent over £2m improving the resilience of treatment plants, improving control systems on site, and carrying out staff training. There have been no similar incidents since January 2018, and the protection of the environment continues to form an integral part of our business objectives.”
The £100,000 donation will contribute towards the delivery of watercourse protection and water enhancement projects on the river. Müller has also paid the Environment Agency’s administration, investigation and legal costs.
Pete Lambert, head of land and water at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Müller’s donation will support the land and water team who manage and improve the health of our county’s water by surveying aquatic species, running events and working with different partners to address flooding issues across the county.
“The funds will support the delivery of vital watercourse-protection and water quality enhancement projects using nature-based solutions including fencing and tertiary water-treatment along a small tributary of the River Tern in north Shropshire.”
Commenting charity payment, Environment Agency senior specialist Sarah Dennis said enforcement undertakings allow polluters to address and restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents.
“The Environment Agency is increasingly using this method of enforcement for suitable cases to restore the environment, improve practices of the offending company, and avoid longer criminal court cases. However, we will prosecute in appropriate cases,” Dennis added.
“As well as donations totalling £100,000 to Shropshire Wildlife Trust that will bring great benefits to the environment, Müller UK & Ireland Group LLP has made significant improvements to its effluent-treatment plants and staff training.”