Colchester: Poultry firm fined over pollution

A POULTRY firm has been fined �20,000 for polluting a stream which feeds into the River Colne for more than two years.

Colchester-based Paul Flatman Ltd was handed the fine and ordered to pay costs of �7,789 at Harlow Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The pollution, which was caused by trade waste from a treatment plant, has affected more than a kilometre of the stream and badly affected the wildlife.

Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Claire Bentley told the court that the company, in Packards Lane, Wormingford, had been advised several times since December 2006 to stop the discharge polluting the water and given deadlines by which to solve the problem.

She said the company had failed to solve the problem and since October 2008 samples taken of the discharge from the treatment plant had high levels of ammonia with no signs of improvement.

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The company had a permit allowing it to discharge treated trade waste into the stream but the discharge was not within the conditions of the permit.

Miss Bentley said: “There appears to have been a lack of focus in the management of the site. Despite being given reasonable time, the defendant has failed to either get the discharge compliant or to make alternative arrangements for dealing with it such as tankering.”

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She said the lack of action was prompted by financial motives, adding: “The company admitted that it did not have the finance to invest into remedial work.”

Paul Flatman, director of the company, told investigators that he had obtained quotes for work to be done but that it would be expensive.

A new ammonia treatment plant was installed in June 2010 but the discharge from the plant was still polluting and two months later an Environment Agency officer saw brown foam coming from the new treatment tank.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Adam Clarke said: “Discharge consent permits are used to protect the environment, when the permit limits are not complied with the aquatic environment is put at risk.

“In this case we gave deadlines for the company to come back into compliance or change the method they used to treat and dispose of the trade effluent but they did not. Our priority is to ensure that the environment is protected and that permits are complied with.”

Paul Flatman Ltd pleaded guilty to causing pollution between 2008 and 2010. The company was unavailable for comment at time of going to press.

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