Farmer Fined for Pollution of Over 13km of River Witham Tributary
Hundreds of fish died when 13.5km of river was polluted by liquid fertiliser, Grantham magistrates heard yesterday (29 October).
Robert Grindal, trading as CJ Grindal, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £6,761 after pleading guilty to causing the pollution, which happened when a tractor towing a bowser carrying liquid fertiliser tipped over into a ditch.
The ditch at Manor Farm, North Witham, Grantham, joins a tributary of the River Witham before joining the river itself.
The court heard that approximately 6,000 litres of fertiliser was lost, causing a pollution with an environmental impact that the Environment Agency categorised as the most serious.
Mrs. Claire Corfield, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said that the pollution had a devastating effect on the fish population with an estimate of over 700 brown trout killed as well as many smaller fish species.
She said that on the day of the incident Grindal did not follow the advice of an Environment Agency officer who asked him to block off the receiving watercourse. Had this been done, the impact would have been significantly reduced.
Magistrates were told that emergency procedures in place on the farm at the time were inadequate. Staff were not trained on environmental risks and relied on Grindal in an emergency. However, he did not know what to do in the event of a major spill and was unaware at the time of the polluting effects of fertiliser.
Mrs Corfield added that the incident also had a major impact on other people as the Grantham Angling Association had to close its waters upstream of Grantham to fishing.
After the hearing Environment Agency officer, Adam Glassford, said:
“This was a very serious incident with devastating effects on the environment. The effects could have been minimised had there been proper plans in place for fertiliser spills.
Anyone who handles, stores or transports materials that could cause pollution should have procedures in place to prevent and minimise such pollution from occurring.”
Robert Grindal trading as CJ Grindal pleaded guilty to:
On or about 10 April 2012, off Stamford Road, near North Witham, Grantham, Lincolnshire, you did cause poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter inland freshwaters, namely a ditch connected to a tributary of the River Witham, without being authorised by an environmental permit - contrary to Regulation 12(1)(b) and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.
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