Pig muck river pollution costs Suffolk company more than £10,000

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Archant

A Framlingham company has been left with a bill of more than £10,000 after pig muck from a farm polluted a 10 kilometre stretch of river.

It happened after slurry from a lagoon flowed into the River Yox at Sibton, Ipswich magistrates heard.

Great Lodge Farm Limited pleaded guilty to causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter - namely trade effluent - to enter inland freshwaters without being authorised by an environmental permit.

The offence occurred around December 9 last year.

A prosecution by The Environment Agency told the court the owners of Great Lodge Farm Ltd had been negligent.

Staff from the Environment Agency saw the river running dark brown and there was a slurry smell.

They traced the source to Bowling Green Farm at Sibton where slurry was being pumped from a storage lagoon into a ditch.

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Pig muck was to be brought to the farm from another farm and was to be stored on a muck pad which drained to the slurry lagoon.

Wendy Foster, prosecuting, said ammonia levels were elevated for 10 kilometres of the river.

She told the court that the checks carried out by the company, prior to ordering the discharge were insufficient.

Farm workers blocked the culvert with soil from the farm at the suggestion of Environment Agency staff, but by that time the river was already polluted.

Martin Kelleway, a director of Great Lodge Farms Ltd, told investigators staff had not been able to spread the slurry because the fields were too wet so it had to be stored.

The lagoon was full of what he thought was just rainwater so it was discharged into the ditch to free up space for the muck pad being used.

Ms Foster told magistrates slurry in the lagoon was grossly polluting and once discharged raised ammonia levels in one tributary of the river by 25 times as much as would be found in clean water.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Ben Marshall said: “Because slurry is potentially so polluting extra care needs to be taken in its storage and management.

“The staff at this company failed their duty of care and this freshwater was grossly polluted. We hope that other similar operators will learn from this company’s error.”

Magistrates took into account that Great Lodge Farms Ltd had no previous convictions, took immediate steps to mitigate the damage, had shown remorse and had not made or intended to make any financial gain.

The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,474 costs.

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