Local press reports says that the Glastonbury Festival is being prosecuted after failures in the way the event deals with the thousands of gallons of human urine and excrement. The charges stem from the 2014 Festival, the first year the majority of the toilets on the site were specially-built long drop toilets, which collected the waste in huge underground concrete tanks. Organiser Michael Eavis had earlier that year said the Festival had plans to store human waste on site and convert this to fertiliser for farmland (although not for Worthy Farm itself).
It is understood the charges relate to the numbers of people urinating into hedgerows, with the Environment Agency closely monitoring the pollution levels in the stream that flows through the Worthy Farm site.
Operations Director Christopher Edwards appeared before magistrates in Yeovil to represent the company, and faced a charge that on or before June 29, 2014 at the Glastonbury Festival, ‘otherwise that under, and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit, caused or knowingly permitted a water discharge activity or groundwater activity, namely the discharge of human sewage derived from the Glastonbury Music Festival’, breaching the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010. Magistrates were told there was a possibility that charges relating to the 2015 festival might also be brought as part of the case.
A joint application for an adjournment was made and because of the complexity of the case the matter will now go before a District Judge in the Magistrates Court in Yeovil. The Magistrates Court agreed to the request and adjourned the case until January 14 2016.
In 2002 the Festival was fined £10,000 after a cesspit for one of 32 blocks of deep drop toilets leaked and its contents polluted the River Whitelake. Environment Agency officials detected high concentrations of ammonia in the river as far as two miles downstream of the Worthy Farm site where the festival is held. Pollution had also occurred following the previous festival in 2000, and the Agency had given formal caution to the organisers. at the time then Operations Director Melvin Benn said “We’ve agreed a programme of improvement to those cesspits, and a programme of testing” adding “During May the organisers will be carrying out sealant tests on the tanks using water, which will allow sufficient time to sort out any problems before this year’s festival at the end of June.”