One of the North-east's top hotels is facing possible prosecution after two pollution incidents within a fortnight.
Slaley Hall, near Hexham in Northumberland, could be held legally responsible for leaking sewage sludge which killed fish and other wildlife along a quarter-mile stretch of a nearby stream.
The Environment Agency was brought in to investigate the leak which, it says, came from the treatment works at the hotel. The works are owned by Slaley Hall but operated under contract by Northumbrian Water.
Environmental protection officer Alan Calver said: "A file will be passed over to our legal people to see if there is enough evidence for prosecution. Slaley Hall own the works and if anyone was prosecuted it would be them."
A Northumbrian Water spokesman said: "There have been technical difficulties with the biological treatment works and we believe the problems we have recently been experiencing have been solved."
A spokesman for the hotel said it accepted that it was legally responsible for the treatment works and it was working with Northumbrian Water to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
"It is our treatment works, but Northumbrian Water operates it," he said.
by Nigel Green