Firm fined £7,000 for polluting waters

MAGISTRATES have fined a Suffolk farming company £7,000 following its second conviction for pollution.Z. Munter Farms Ltd, of Bedingfield, near Eye had pleaded not guilty to a charge of allowing noxious material to contaminate a waterway in August last year.

MAGISTRATES have fined a Suffolk farming company £7,000 following its second conviction for pollution.

Z. Munter Farms Ltd, of Bedingfield, near Eye had pleaded not guilty to a charge of allowing noxious material to contaminate a waterway in August last year.

After studying evidence from the Environment Agency, which had brought the prosecution, magistrates at Mildenhall yesterdayruled against the company.

Anne Brosnan, prosecuting, said the Ipswich office of the Environment Agency had been alerted by residents at Southolt who complained of pollution affecting a stream.


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Dr Raymond Watson, an environmental protection officer, was sent to investigate and discovered the water in the stream near Park Road was thick and dark coloured.

Dr Watson took samples of water which analysis showed contained such high levels of ammonia and a lack of oxygen, that fish and other water creatures would have been unable to survive.

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He then checked ditches further upstream beside Munter's land and found signs of more pollution which appeared to have come from a neighbouring field where there were pools of dark coloured water on the ground.

There had been sharp rain showers in the area earlier and these may have contributed to pig effluent getting into the ditch, said Miss Brosnan, although under the terms of the Water Resources Act it was no defence to blame normal weather conditions if pollution occured.

It was not contested that there had been pollution of the ditch and stream and that pig slurry was spread on land owned by Z. Munter Farms Ltd, said Miss Brosnan.

The source of the pollution, however, was disputed by the company although the Environment Agency's investigations pointed towards the field beside the ditch as having been responsible, the court was told.

Managing director of the company, Mr Leonard Munter strongly denied liability and insisted that the spreading of slurry on the field in question had not taken place for more than a month before the pollution incident.

Mr Munter admitted that he had been "very angry" when Dr Watson arrived to interview him about the pollution on August 3rd last year.

Both men visited the scene which Mr Munter said showed no signs of pollution on the surface of the land. He produced drainage maps which he said showed that whatever soaked into the land at that location would flow into another ditch which was unaffected.

Dr Watson told magistrates that because of the geography of the area, it was possible for liquid to flow in either direction and so be able to reach the polluted ditch.

Mr Munter said the water in the field was sandy in colour and bore

not relationship to that in the ditch and stream which was clearly polluted.

He said: "I just couldn't believe that it was us causing this. None of my land falls into that catchment area. I knew that it was nothing to do with me".

Mr Munter also alleged that the locations shown on Environment Agency maps showing where water samples had been taken were inaccurate and not beside land within his company's ownership.

Following conviction at Lowestoft Magistrates Court for a pollution

offence a year earlier which resulted in a £3,000 fine, Mr Munter said his company had been very careful about the disposal of pig effluent.

A specialist company handled the spreading of the waste on the land and detailed records were kept in accordance with Environment Agency guidelines.

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