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Agricultural firm given liability notice over River Witham pollution

The company responsible for a major pollution incident on the River Witham that killed at least 100,000 fish has been told they must develop plans to restore the river.

The Environment Agency has issued Omex Agriculture Limited with a ‘notice of liability’ under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2015, in relation to the release of ammonia into the Lincolnshire river in March 2018.

The notice – only the second the Environment Agency has issued since the regulations came into force - means that the agricultural and fertiliser company is required to submit proposals for repairing the river, after what the agency described as the worst river pollution ever recorded in Lincolnshire.

The ammonia affected the river from Bardney to the Wash, severely impacting the condition of the river and its ecosystems. The EA is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the pollution, and will consider further action once the investigation is complete.

Manfai Tang, environment manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We know the pollution had a devastating effect on delicate river ecosystems, and issuing this notice means the process of helping the river recover to its natural, healthy state can start sooner. It’s one way we’re working to protect and improve our environment for local people and wildlife. We look forward to receiving proposals from Omex for review, and working with them to restore the Witham.”

After the incident, Environment Agency experts and biologists worked tirelessly with other organisations to clean up the pollution and mitigate the damage. Fisheries teams have since re-stocked the river with more than 1.5 million fish larvae, including common bream, roach and tench, plus re-introducing around 40,000 roach and common bream ranging from 30 to 40mm long.

Serving a notice of liability under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2015 allows the EA to require a polluter to take steps to remediate the damage done by a pollution incident. Once the notice is served, the recipient has 28 days to lodge an appeal.

The polluter has until mid-January to submit their proposals.

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Policy & Regulation
Tags: agriculture , fish , pollution , environment agency , ammonia

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