Slurry spill costs Evesham farm £3,800 in courts

An Evesham dairy farm has been fined after allowing a slurry lagoon to overflow - then attempting to resolve the situation by digging a trench to carry the run-off into a neighbouring stream.

On Wednesday, January 20, Shanael Farms Ltd and Michael Miller of Greville Hall Farm, Evesham, pleaded guilty at Worcester Magistrates’ Court to polluting the Battleton Brook at Hinton on the Green, near Evesham.

Shanael Farms Limited was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £900, along with a £15 victim surcharge. Mr Miller was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £900, along with a £15 victim surcharge.

Shanael Farms Limited run a 400 head dairy unit at Greville Hall Farm, with Mr Miller as the director of the company.

For the Environment Agency, Jill Crawford told the court that on May 20, 2008 Environment Agency officers traced the source of a pollution incident on the Battleton Brook to Greville Hall Farm.

Officers found that a lagoon holding diluted cattle slurry, drained from yard areas at the farm, had overflowed onto a track. Mr Miller had then dug a trench that diverted this slurry off the track into a nearby watercourse. The company admitted it knew that the lagoon was overflowing for nearly 24 hours before trying to stop it.

Water samples taken by the officers showed that the discharge had polluted over a mile of the brook. The oxygen content was found to be less than a half of the expected levels. There was a significant reduction in the numbers of invertebrates in the sections of the brook that were polluted.

On advice from the Environment Agency, the farm cleared out the worst polluted sections of the brook into a lagoon.

In mitigation, Mr Miller said that he had been very busy with silage making at the time of the incident and that he was now carrying out works to improve the slurry management at the site.

Speaking after the case an Environment Agency officer involved in the investigation said: “This was an easily avoidable incident.

“It is important that farmers give their slurry and yard run-off management a high priority and make sure that their slurry handling operations are carried out using up to date equipment and techniques.

“Much of the county is now within a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone. This requires many farmers to provide five months storage capacity for their slurry and contaminated yard run off.

“The Environment Agency and local farming groups have organised a series of workshops to educate farmers of the key requirements of farming within these protection zones. Farmers can contact the Worcester Rural Hub on 01905 622272 for details of forthcoming workshops.”

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Water Resources Act.

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