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Shropshire farmer fined over River Teme pollution incident

“Our environment is a precious heritage and all steps should be taken to preserve rivers and water courses from pollution

On 14 August 2013, Shropshire farmer Stephen David Small, pleaded guilty at Telford Magistrates’ Court to causing the discharge of polluting matter, namely cattle slurry, into the River Teme at Steventon, near Ludlow, without an environmental permit.

The 45 year old from Steventon Manor Farm, Ludlow was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,250 in costs. The charge was brought by the Environment Agency under regulation 38(1) (a) and Regulation 12(1) of the Environmental Permitting Regulation 2010.

On 18 August 2011, a report was made to the Environment Agency that part of the River Teme was heavily contaminated with what appeared to be cow slurry. The River Teme is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

An Environment Agency officer arrived on scene and observed that slurry was covering a large area of the river bed. She noticed a corrugated plastic pipe on the steep bankside, and saw green liquid flowing from the end of it.

The next day, Environment Agency officers visited Steventon Manor Farm and spoke to Mr Small. He explained that a pump which was meant to transfer the cow slurry up to a slurry lagoon had broken down. The cow slurry from the lower yard and dairy parlour had flowed via an overflow drainage pipe from the yard, down to the River Teme.

Mr Small was instructed to immediately block this pipe to prevent any further slurry from entering the River Teme, and advised to vacuum tank the slurry directly from the reception pit to the slurry lagoon.

An analysis of the watercourse downstream of the discharge revealed it to be highly polluted, to a level ‘comparable to that of raw domestic sewage’. Checks confirmed there were no Environmental Permits in place permitting the discharge of farm effluent into the River Teme.

In mitigation, the court was told that the defendant took action to remedy the pollution swiftly, and was remorseful for his actions.

Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said:
“Our environment is a precious heritage and all steps should be taken to preserve rivers and water courses from pollution. We will not hesitate to prosecute in such cases.”
Charges

On or before 19 August 2011, Stephen David Small caused a water discharge activity, namely the discharge of polluting matter, namely cattle slurry, into an inland freshwater, namely the River Teme at Steventon, near Ludlow, without such water discharge activity being authorised by an environmental permit, contrary to regulation 38(1) (a) and Regulation 12(1) of the Environmental Permitting Regulation 2010.