North Devon Farm Couple Fined for Pollution and Illegal Waste Dumping
By Hyperlocal | Thursday, January 06, 2011, 17:29
The owners of a North Devon dairy farm have been fined £1,500 at Barnstaple Magistrates Court in a case brought by the Environment Agency. The farming couple, John and Florence Ley, were charged with polluting a stream near an important salmon spawning river and illegally dumping waste in a quarry at their farm.
The defendants keep a herd of approximately dairy 200 cows and
around 150 young stock at West Brendon Farm, Sutcombe, Holsworthy.
In February 2010 an Environment Agency officer noticed a ‘tide mark’ where dirty
water had been discharging into a drainage ditch just below Brendon
A week later environment protection officers returned to West
Brendon Farm and carried out a more detailed inspection of nearby
watercourses. The ditch below the dairy drained into a marshy pond that
was silted up with slurry solids. Water flowing out of the pond was
green and a white detergent foam was visible on the surface.
The stream below this marshy area was blanketed in sewage fungus for
a distance of approximately 1,200 metres. Sewage fungus is a sign a
watercourse has been polluted over a period of time. The stream is a
tributary of the River Waldon.
During their investigation, Agency officers found that domestic and
agricultural waste including cardboard, bailer twine, plastic oil
containers, barbed wire, furniture, concrete, foam rubber, plastic feed
bags and bonded asbestos guttering in a quarry on the farm. The
uncontrolled burning or tipping of waste on farms is now illegal
following the introduction of new regulations in 2006.
‘Farmers must ensure slurry stores and dirty water systems are of
sufficient capacity and in a good state of repair. This is becoming
more important as old stores reach the end of their expected working
lives,’ said Phil Siddall for the Environment Agency.
Farm slurry is very harmful to fish and aquatic life. The River
Waldon and surrounding tributaries are important for fish such as brown
trout and migratory species including salmon.
At Barnstaple Magistrates Court yesterday, 5 January 2011, the couple (under their trading name of JG and FM Ley Partnership) pleaded guilty to causing pollution by allowing farm slurry to enter controlled waters. They were fined £1500 for this offence and £400 for operating an unauthorised waste facility plus £1,000 costs.