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Staffordshire farm fined for effluent fish deaths

A Staffordshire farm has been ordered to pay £14,000 in fines and costs over pollution which entered Gayton Brook, Staffordshire and killed 3000 fish.

B&M Elkin & Son Ltd of Hall Farm, Hilderstone, was prosecuted by the Environment Agency and pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching environmental regulations and failing to provide adequate effluent storage.

The first of two pollution incidents occurred in Sept 2015 when farm effluent was found to have discharged to the Gayton Brook, Milwich for several days. Investigators discovered that farm slurry had escaped from a gap in a storage pit, causing effluent to run across the farm and into the brook. The brook was left green/brown in colour with a white foam, with a foul odour present, and approximately 3000 fish died as a result.

A second incident occurred on 30 June 2016, when effluent entered Wheatlow Brook, which was found to be brown and frothy in appearance.

Hall Farm is within a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone which means the farm must comply with strict rules on slurry storage. Environment Agency officers advised the company that there was insufficient storage capacity and that they were in breach of the Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2010.

The company was fined £7,000, and ordered to pay £7,100 costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

In mitigation, the company said that it had been operating for 30 years without incident; it also cooperated with the Environment Agency and pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity. B&M Elkin & Sons Ltd also voluntarily paid £1,000 to the local wildlife trust and had spent over £20,000 in improvements and remediation at their site.

The Environment Agency Officer leading the investigation said: “These were entirely preventable serious incidents, which led to pollution of farmland and watercourses in the area, resulting in the death of thousands of fish. The fact that the first incident was subsequently repeated gave us little choice but to pursue a prosecution.

“I hope this case sends a strong message to the farming industry that their activities have the potential for serious environmental impacts, and we take action when necessary.”

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Water Quality
Tags: pollution

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