A farmer has been ordered to pay £8,957 in fines and costs for polluting a stream near a popular Cornish holiday beach.
The case was brought by the Environment Agency.
On 9 July 2015 the Environment Agency received a report that the Tywardeath Stream in Par had turned brown and smelt of slurry. Par duck pond was also polluted. As a precaution, warning signs were erected at nearby Par Sands, a designated bathing beach, informing people of the pollution and advising them not to swim in the sea.
The pollution was traced to East Lanescot Farm where slurry was gushing from a pipe. Eels and fish were seen in distress gasping for air immediately downstream of the farm. David Phillips, a partner in the company that operates the farm, said as soon as he was alerted he tried to stop the pollution by putting a ‘bung’ in the leaking pipe and started emptying the slurry lagoon with a tanker.
When the slurry lagoon was emptied it was discovered a redundant pipe, that flowed under the lagoon, had collapsed and this had caused the pollution.
David Phillips estimated that 50,000 gallons of slurry had leaked from the lagoon. He was unaware the slurry had reached the Treesmill Stream, a tributary of the Tywardeath Stream, so hadn’t reported the incident to the Environment Agency. Among fish casualties were 30 brown trout found upstream of Par duck pond and downstream of the farm. In total, more than a kilometre of river was polluted.
Magistrates heard there was a similar pollution incident on the farm in 2013. It hadn’t resulted in a prosecution, but the farm was referred to the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme. Had suggested improvements had been carried out following this previous incident, the severity of the 2015 slurry spill would have been reduced.
Lisa Goodall for the Environment Agency said:
The pollution from this farm had a serious impact on the environment. Hundreds of fish were killed and a local beach was put at risk during the bathing season and. There were significant costs incurred during the clean-up operation. Par duck pond, which is used by recreational fishermen, was badly affected.
Appearing before Truro magistrates, David Phillips was fined £675 and ordered to pay £8,214 costs after pleading guilty to an unauthorised discharge of slurry from East Lanescot Farm on 9 July 2015 contrary to Regulations 12(1)(b) and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.