Two firms fined £15k after slurry pollutes river

Environmental Law

A Samlesbury firm has been ordered to pay more than £15,000 after farm slurry polluted waterways in the county and could have killed fish in the River Ribble.

Environmental Law

Withgill Farm Ltd from Great Mitton, near Clitheroe, Lancashire, and Wilsons Contractors Ltd (trading as Wilson Farming), from Samlesbury, Preston, have both been prosecuted by the Environment Agency following a pollution incident where the slurry polluted a tributary of the River Hodder.

Wilson Farming had been spreading slurry on behalf of Withgill Farm Ltd at Withgill Farm, which is one of the largest dairy farms in the UK.

The companies pleaded guilty at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court to causing the discharge. They were each fined £11,500 and ordered to pay £4,063 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

The court heard that following a complaint from the public in April 2017, the Environment Agency investigated the incident and found that a significant volume of slurry had discharged from a field drain outlet at the farm and flowed into a small stream leading into the river Hodder – a river well known for its salmon fishing.

The river Hodder was heavily discoloured downstream of the confluence, with a distinct cloudy plume. It smelled of slurry for several kilometres and this continued beyond its confluence with the river Ribble. The Ribble at Dinckley, over 7.5 km from the entry point, was deemed unfishable by anglers.

Jackie Monk, the Environment Agency’s investigating officer, said: “This incident could have caused serious harm to the fishery in the rivers, however, we believe that because it happened during a period of very cold and wet weather, it prevented a major fish kill – had it happened a month or so later, things could have been very different.”

Source: The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, 13th October 2019