Press release

Gross pollution leads to more than £23,000 in fines and costs

Spreading and storing excessive amounts of vegetable washings on a farm in Outwell, Norfolk led to gross pollution of a watercourse a court heard yesterday.

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DEM (King’s Lynn) Ltd stored too much highly polluting waste in a lagoon and spread too much of the organic waste onto land controlled by Trevor William Sieley, leading to run off and pollution, King’s Lynn Magistrates heard.

Storage and spreading of waste on the land by the company was illegal and magistrates fined both the person in control of the land and the company. Sieley, who had received a warning letter and previous offences for similar actions, was fined £1,920 and ordered to pay costs of £10,041 as well as a victim surcharge of £170.

Sieley had denied knowingly allowing the illegal waste operation but the court found him guilty, deciding that his actions were reckless.

DEM, which pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to spreading the waste illegally, was fined £3,667, ordered to pay £7,666 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Mr Gurjit Bdesha, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court the company had deposited and stored waste at the site for almost two years under an exemption, which did not cover the level of operations. There was no environmental permit which would have set out conditions to protect the environment.

Waste vegetable washings were stored and spread on 3.99 hectares of land at Poplar Farm in Outwell. The exemption allowed for waste produced only on the farm to be spread but waste potatoes and washings were brought from two companies onto the site. During 20 months it is estimated that 7,700 tonnes of waste was taken to the farm and deposited or spread.

Sieley had registered an exemption to spread waste on agricultural land to improve soil quality but failed to comply with its conditions. A lagoon, used to store some of the waste, over-spilled and was too close to a ditch and there was too much spread on the land.

Environment Agency officers visited the site in April 2015 after reports from Nordelph Internal Drainage Board that a slurry pit was polluting nearby watercourses. They found heaps of potatoes stored in the field, straw bale walls of the lagoon decomposing and effluent leaking from the lagoon into the ditch.

In June they told the company to stop work and clear up the site by 1 October but no action was taken.

Mr Bdesha said:

In November 2015 the lagoon looked the same, potatoes around the site were in various states of decay and the soil in the field gave off a decaying smell. The lagoon was also over-spilling into a ditch that flowed to the IDB drain.

The court heard that in 2007 Sieley was the sole director of another company that was involved in a similar incident on land at Outwell which resulted in his previous conviction and in 2005 was issued with a warning letter for the disposal of potato wash water on to land/into a soak-away pit at Walsingham Fen, Outwell without a waste management licence.

After the hearing Environment Agency team leader Chris Tate said:

This company was not complying with the agricultural exemption and was also taking waste illegally from other businesses.

By not having the right environmental permit, illegal waste activities pose a threat to human health and the environment by contaminating land and polluting rivers. Anyone who produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of waste has a duty of care to make sure it is managed correctly.

Trevor William Sieley was found guilty of: Between 8 November 2013 and 16 June 2015, on land at Poplar Farm, the Aqueduct, Outwell, in the County of Norfolk, you knowingly permitted the operation of a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit and storage of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a) and 38(1)(b) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

DEM (Kings Lynn) Ltd pleaded guilty to: Between 8 November 2013 and 16 June 2015, on land at Poplar Farm, the Aqueduct, Outwell, in the County of Norfolk, you did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit and storage of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a) and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

New rules for farmers have just been published: (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-requirements-for-farmers-to-improve-environment-for-all)

For all media enquiries please contact 0800 141 2743 or email Southeastpressoffice1@environment-agency.gov.uk

Published 26 September 2018