Farming

Dairy farm slurry grossly pollutes river

In 2009, the owners of a dairy farm were ordered to pay £18,855 in fines and costs after slurry polluted a two and a half mile stretch of the River Exe near Dulverton.

The owners had instructed contractors to empty their slurry store, which uses a ‘weeping-wall’ system. As dry slurry was being loaded onto a spreader the pit ‘gave way’ and caused a large amount of wet slurry to escape across a yard and into a stream. The incident resulted in the pollution of four kilometres of the river and its tributaries.

“Farmers must ensure they have sufficient quantities of straw or similar material to ensure a proper consistency of material in their slurry stores and care should be taken when emptying,” said a representative from the Environment Agency.

Farm slurry leak kills hundreds of fish

A farming business in North Yorkshire was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,926 in costs after a pig slurry leak killed hundreds of fish in a local stream in 2009. When Environment Agency officers inspected the farm they found slurry spilling from one of the farm’s slurry lagoons and running into the Easington beck. The agency determined that the incident was a category 1, the most serious, after about 220 brown trout perished.

Egg producer pays for liquid waste pollution

A duck egg producer suffered a series of costly setbacks after grossly polluting a drain in Donington with liquid waste and slurry.

The producer was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,917 in costs. The court also ordered the producer to pay the full compensation of £699 for work to reduce the effect of the pollution to the South Forty Foot Drain.

Following the initial Environment Agency investigation the producer set up a lagoon to collect waste, cleaned out the duck barns and brought in an environmental cleaning company to clean the drains and collect 2,000 gallons of waste.

But more than a month after the pollution incident officers found that the pipe between the lagoon and watercourse had not been blocked. This forced the producer to relocate the ducks to a different site and construct a new sump and septic tank at a cost of £10,000.

Failure to manage odour costs poultry unit over £42,000

A poultry unit in Sibsey, Boston, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £12,123 in costs for failing to follow its own odour management plan. The ‘nauseating’ smell has had a considerable impact on local residents. They said they could not hang out washing, use their gardens, or open their windows in the summer. An investigation found shed doors being left open, bedding capped and visibly damp underneath, and poorly placed misting nozzles designed to keep smells under control.

Diesel theft leaves farmer with heavy clean-up costs

A farmer in Samlesbury, Lancashire, faced costs of up to £70,000 after thieves broke in to his 10,000-litre diesel tank and allowed thousands of litres of fuel to spill onto the land.

“The problem is whoever did this could have just filled up a 25 litre drum and made off, yet it has cost me thousands,” said the affected farmer.

Police have urged farmers to improve the security of their fuel supplies as the cost of red diesel thefts increased by 30% in 2008. A pollution policy adviser for the Environment Agency said that by securing fuel from both theft and accidental spillages farmers can avoid hefty clean-up costs.

Lincolnshire pig farm causes pollution to protected river

In 2009, pig effluent from a farm in Lincolnshire polluted more than six kilometres of the River Witham and cost the responsible farmer £10,039.

The pollution happened when slurry backed up in a drainage system and then overflowed from a broken manhole. The incident killed about 450 brown trout and several protected native crayfish.

“This case demonstrates the catastrophic consequences of [businesses] failing to [consider and responsibly manage the pollution risk from their operations] and the action that the Environment Agency will take to bring those responsible to account,” said an Environmental Agency officer.

Pollution from farm causes massive fish kill

More than 80,000 fish were killed when an unknown quantity of farm slurry escaped into Bradiford Water at Muddiford in North Devon.

Plaistow Mills fish farm lost almost all of its stock of trout because of the pollution. Ben Woodhouse for the Environment Agency said, “This is a severe pollution incident. We are talking about a two-mile stretch of the river where all the fish have died and a fish farm that has been almost totally wiped out.

”The source of the pollution was traced back to a local farm and an investigation is being carried out to determine the exact cause of the incident.

Yorkshire farmer pays for polluting his own land

A North Yorkshire farmer was ordered to pay £6,296 in compensation to the Environment Agency and £1,704 in legal costs for the clean-up of his own land.

The farmer had been storing hundreds of tonnes of manure and slurry on site which resulted in his smallholding being overstocked. In 2008, heavy rain washed the effluent into a neighbouring house forcing the family to evacuate their home.

The Environment Agency labelled the farmer’s smallholding as a category 1 incident, the most serious. “Enforcement was necessary in this case. We hope it sends out a clear message about the importance of dealing with manure correctly,” said an environment officer.