Pershore firm fined £120,000 for river pollution which killed fish - The Evesham Observer
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8th Aug, 2022

Pershore firm fined £120,000 for river pollution which killed fish

Rob George 1st Jun, 2022

A PERSHORE firm has been fined £120,000 for polluting a river which led to the death of some 220 fish near Redditch.

Springhill Farms (Pershore) Limited pleaded guilty at Kidderminster Magistrates Court last Wednesday (May 25) to the illegal discharge of anaerobic digestate (fertiliser) and sugar beet washings into the local watercourse.

In addition, the firm admitted a failure to comply with nitrate regulations having allowed two-and-a-half times the limit to be spread onto land.

The company was fined a total of £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,125.19.

Officers from the Environment Agency were first alerted to the situation in February 2018 when members of the public discovered 220 dead fish in Piddle Brook near Redditch.

An investigation discovered a faulty pipe had started to discharge fertiliser into the watercourse from nearby Rotherdale Farm, which is run by the company.

Officers were told that the company used a lagoon to store digestate and used an underground pump system to spread liquid as a fertiliser. A further 100 dead fish were discovered at a marina further down the watercourse.

Farm employees said they did not maintain records of the volumes in the lagoon and had no maintenance record either of the lagoon or pipework.

A further offence was recorded in May of 2018 when company officials notified the Environment Agency that foam had been reported in Piddle Brook.

An investigation revealed that sugar beet discharge, being used to irrigate a field, had started to spill into the watercourse from a faulty pipe.

No dead fish were recorded on this occasion and the farm took immediate steps to fix the faulty pipe.

The initial investigation had prompted the Environment Agency to ask the company for levels of nitrates used on the farm as per regulations introduced in 2015 in an effort to prevent the pollution of ground and surface waters.

However, the company admitted there was no nitrogen fertiliser plan and it was subsequently discovered 19 fields had been treated with amounts of nitrogen that exceeded the 250kg/ha limit.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We always strive to work with farmers to reduce the risk of pollution, protect the environment, and ensure they are compliant with the regulations.

“However, where there is evidence of serious pollution issues we will not hesitate to pursue the offenders concerned and take tough enforcement action.

“We expect much better from such a large and experienced farming business, both for the environment and the local community.”

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