Company fined £120,000 for dumping waste and killing 320 fish

A company has been fined £120,000 at Kidderminster Magistrates Court for poisoning water which killed 320 fish.

Piddle Brook near Redditch
Piddle Brook near Redditch

Springhill Farms Limited pleaded guilty to the illegal discharge of anaerobic digestate and sugar beet washings into the watercourse, as well as failure to comply with nitrate regulations having allowed 2.5 times the limit to be spread onto land.

The company was fined a total of £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,125.19.

Officers from the Environment Agency were first alerted to the situation in February 2018 when members of the public discovered dead fish in Piddle Brook near Redditch.

An investigation discovered a faulty pipe had started to discharge anaerobic digestate into the watercourse from nearby Rotherdale Farm, which is run by the company.

Officers were told that the company used a lagoon to store digestate and used an underground pump system to spread liquid as a fertiliser. Around 220 dead fish were discovered in Piddle Brook and another 100 at a marina further down the watercourse.

Farm employees said they did not maintain records of the volumes in the lagoon and had no maintenance record either of the lagoon or pipework.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: "We always strive to work with farmers to reduce the risk of pollution, protect the environment, and ensure they are compliant with the regulations. However, where there is evidence of serious pollution issues we will not hesitate to pursue the offenders concerned and take tough enforcement action.

"We expect much better from such a large and experienced farming business, both for the environment and the local community."

A further offence was recorded in May of 2018 when company officials notified the Environment Agency that foam had been reported in Piddle Brook.

An investigation revealed that sugar beet discharge, being used to irrigate a field, had started to spill into the watercourse from a faulty pipe.

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