Farmer fined for polluting protected river with slurry

Pollution in the River Till.
Pollution in the River Till.
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Farmers are being warned of their responsibilities to store slurry and silage properly after a dairy farmer and his company were fined £19,162 for twice polluting a protected watercourse.

John Laing and his company, Dalbury Ltd, which operates New Heaton Farm in Cornhill-on-Tweed, were sentenced at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to two charges of polluting a tributary that flows into the River Till and another for failing to improve a silage storage unit.

Chris Bunting, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, advised the court that little had been done to prevent the continued leaking of silage into the watercourse to date since the initial incident in June 2014.

This is in contravention of the regulations, which require farmers to ensure that slurry and water stores, silage clamps and diesel tanks are built to minimise the risk of their contents polluting water or land.

Environment Agency officers inspected New Heaton Farm on June 16, 2014, after responding to a report of pollution on the River Till tributary 1.5km downstream.

The tributary, which flows into a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), was showing signs of sewage fungus and discolouration corresponding with pollution caused by silage and slurry. Pollution was subsequently found to extend more than 4km downstream.