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Farming firm fined for water pollution

PUBLISHED: 10:15 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:50 12 July 2010

A FARMING company has been fined £8,000 for pollution that led to the deaths of hundreds of fish.

Ammonia fertilizer ended up in a ditch that runs into the River Dove near Eye.

A FARMING company has been fined £8,000 for pollution that led to the deaths of hundreds of fish.

Ammonia fertilizer ended up in a ditch that runs into the River Dove near Eye.

It killed fish in a lake at Wickham Hall, Wickham Skeith, when ammonia levels became high.

APT Farming, of Capel St Mary, was fined £8,000 by magistrates at Bury St Edmunds and ordered to pay £3,300 costs after it admitted causing the pollution on February 28.

The company was also told to pay £2,600 compensation to the owners of Wickham Hall to restock the lake.

Magistrates were told that more than 500 fish were dead in the lake within days of the pollution. Some of those were carp measuring between 10cm and 60cm. Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting, said Environment Agency officers traced the pollution from the lake to Elm Farm, where they saw obvious signs of spillage from an open-top tank containing a deep brown liquid. The yard sloped towards an open surface water drain and the liquid was running into it.

Officers located the owner/operator, who said he had not been aware of any problem but the site was not manned continuously.

Mrs McDonald said the tank used for mixing fertilizers was clearly not sited in an appropriate location according to a code of practice produced by a manufacturers' association for fertilizer.

She said that, although downstream of the discharge the river system was used for water abstraction, there was no evidence of the supply being affected.

After the hearing, Environment Agency officer Nick Davis said: “Pollution incidents can cause significant harm to our rivers, both in terms of water quality and amenity value. It is the responsibility of the polluter to ensure that any spillages are contained and removed, ensuring that it does not reach any watercourses.

“We take all incidents of water pollution very seriously indeed and will take appropriate legal action where required.

“Accidents can occur, but it is important to ensure the quality of the installation, and emergency procedures on site protect the environment when things do go wrong.”

Mr Davis added: “The Environment Agency will willingly provide guidance and advice, and I would advise people to ask for our help before an incident such as this occurs rather than end up in court.”

A spokeswoman for APT Farming said there was no one available to comment.

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