Although not a recent prosecution, a good reminder to organisations of their Environmental Management responsibilities:
Rodenhurst Ltd of Wadborough was sentenced at Worcester Magistrates’ Court to four charges relating to the repeated pollution of a local watercourse bordering their premises at Wadborough Park Farm.
The company was also sentenced to one charge of failing to comply with an Environment Agency Notice that required them to make improvements to slurry and silage stores at the farm. The company pleaded guilty.
The company Ltd was fined a total of £37,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs, along with a £15 victim surcharge.
In court, the Environment Agency also secured a Court Order (under Regulation 44 of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010) requiring the company to bring slurry and silage storage up to legal standard and to undertake other specified improvement works to protect the water environment. All of these works must be completed by 30 June 2014.
The charges brought by the Environment Agency relate to offences under Regulations 12(1) and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010, and Regulations 7 and 10 of the Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (England) Regulations 2010.
A&A Rodenhurst Ltd operates an intensive beef rearing business following visits by Environment Agency officers in late 2011 and early 2012, concerns were raised relating to inadequate storage of slurry and silage at the farm, and pollution of a small watercourse with farm effluent was identified.
During inspections, officers noticed cattle sheds housed alongside a very large slurry lagoon which was overflowing and located too near to the watercourse. This is in contravention of environmental legislation designed to ensure the protection of the environment from agricultural operations.
The silage store was also found to not have the necessary effluent collection and storage infrastructure and a second slurry lagoon in use at the farm was not up to standard. Samples taken from the watercourse confirmed that the water was polluted with a foul smelling foam and scum substance found to be organic material from the farm.
Environment Agency officers notified the directors of the company and asked them to repair the problems as they were in breach of relevant legislation. The discharges of farm effluent were impacting on water quality and affecting residents in the village of Hawbridge, up to one kilometre downstream.
Remedial work undertaken by A&A Rodenhurst Ltd was unsuccessful in preventing the pollution of the local watercourse and insufficient work was done to improve slurry and silage storage at the farm. A Legal Notice requiring specific works to bring the relevant farm infrastructure up to minimum industry standards was served but not complied with.
Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said: “The company allowed the continued pollution of a local watercourse through repeated discharges from the farm into the stream without a permit.
A permit would never have been authorised for a polluting effluent to enter into inland freshwaters and this case sends out a clear message that we will not hesitate to prosecute when environmental damage is caused.”
In mitigation, the court heard that the company had made some attempt to comply with the Notices and that they had no previous convictions listed against them.