Water Industry News

Somerset Farm Fined For Polluting Watercourse

Somerset-based farm business Alvis Brothers of Lye Cross Farm in Redhill has been fined £37,184 after pleading guilty to two pollution incidents that took place in 2019, following incoming reports of slurry pollution to a tributary of the Congresbury Yeo near Cheddar.


The farm itself supplies cheese to some of the biggest supermarkets, including Sainsbury, Marks & Spencer, and Waitrose, as well as exporting to over 40 countries around the world.


But earlier this month (December), Bristol Magistrates Court heard that the source of the pollution could be traced back to a heap of farmyard manure at Lye Cross Farm, with the runoff entering a surface water drain that led to the stream, with more than half a kilometre of water polluted as a result.


Assessments carried out by the Environment Agency revealed a chronic impact on the aquatic invertebrates living downstream of the farm, while sensitive species – which are an indication of good water quality – were only found upstream.


Jenny Hasell, Environment Agency environment officer, said: “Repeated pollution events from Lye Cross Farm have caused protracted damage to the local environment. We expect much better from such a large and experienced farming business, both for the environment and the local communities.”


District judge Lynne Matthews described the farm business’s offences as appalling and disgraceful, adding that the company shouldn’t need to be nurse-maided by the Environment Agency given how much experience they have in farming.


She further added that in all the pollution cases she has had to deal with, she has not come across any offenders with as many slaps on the wrist from the Agency as in this particular case.

Earlier this year, the government announced that farmers around the country would be given extra support to reduce water and air pollution on their land, as part of the Catchment SEnsitive Farming programme.


This has been one of the main ways to help farmers tackle pollution over the last 15 years, with free advice to farmers provided to help them reduce pollution through better management of farmyard manure, soils and so on.


Through the programme, the number of serious water pollution incidents has been reduced by nearly a fifth in recent years, with farmers helped to access £100 million in grants. The funding for the scheme has now been nearly doubled, with an extra £17 million over the next three years and a new annual budget of £30 million.


As a result, it will now cover 100 per cent of farmland in England, up from 40 per cent of its previous coverage. It means that every farmer will be able to access advice and support by March 2023, helping them to access a range of solutions to drive down pollution.


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