Slurry leak farmer forced to pay £14,000

A British farmer has been ordered to pay over £14,000 in fines and costs, after being found guilty of severely polluting a stream in a protected area.

Ronald Duguid, from Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, was found to have intentionally allowed slurry from his farmyard and leaking manure heaps to flow into the Black Dyke; a tributary of the River Ancolme.

In prosecution, Claire Bentley told Lincoln Magistrates Court that the 69 year-old had no measures in place to store and collect dirty water or slurry, labelling Duguid’s whole system as inadequate.

The case came to light on 4 November last year, when an Environment Agency (EA) officer detected a strong smell of manure in the stream.

On returning to the site the following day, EA officers witnessed the slurry and dirty water flowing into the stream from a discharge pipe coming from Mr Duguid’s property.

At that time, Duguid acknowledged to the EA that he was aware waste was running from his property into the watercourse, but that he ‘could not see a problem with the pollution’.

He went on to claim that he had conducted matters in the same fashion for the 55 years that he had occupied the site.

A subsequent survey of the Black Dyke found that even 150 metres downstream of the discharge pipe, the pollution from Mr Duguid’s farm had a severe and detrimental impact on the invertebrates in the stream, and had deoxygenated the water.

A layer of sewage fungus was also found to be growing on the river vegetation.

In response to an EA letter demanding that the farm immediately stop the leaks Duguid – who sold crops to major chains including Marks and Spencer and Tesco – claimed there was no ‘economic solution’ to the issue and that the pollution was ‘causing no overall problem’.

Upon returning to the site in March 2010 for a review of the situation, EA officers found slurry was still being directed into the stream and noted further leakage from a manure heap.

Duguid continued to defend his actions, claiming there was “no area for the storage of dirty water on the farm” and that he assumed leakages from the manure heap would be absorbed by the surrounding land, and so the issue was brought to court.

Last Wednesday (6 October) was found guilty on two counts of causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled waters in November last year.

Duguid also asked the court to take into account a further offence on 31 August 2010.

He was fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £6,425.

Sam Plester

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