The owners of a North Devon dairy farm have been fined thousands of pounds for polluting a stream near a popular coastal beauty spot.
The partnership of BR, MJ & PJ Colwill, which operates at Welsford Farm at Hartland, near Bideford, pleaded guilty to discharging poisonous matter to a tributary of the Speke’s Mill Stream near Hartland.
They were ordered to pay £5,623 in fines and costs, after the Environment Agency brought forward the case at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
In January, the Agency was contacted by a member of the public who had seen pollution in the stream, which runs through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and discharges into the sea.
An agency officer saw the stream was heavily discoloured and smelled of slurry. A dark brown effluent was discharging from a pipe on the left bank of the watercourse just below Welsford Bridge.
The pollution was traced to the farm where a slurry store was found to be ‘brim full’. There was a pool of slurry on the ground beside the store and the slurry had run down a bank into a ditch before draining under a gateway and into the Speke’s Mill Stream. Approximately one mile of the Speke’s Mill Stream was polluted as a result of the slurry spill.
Paul Colwill, owner of Welsford Farm, said wet weather had prevented had prevented the spreading slurry on the land, causing the store to fill up.
Liz Iles, of the Environment Agency, said: “This pollution was the result of not so much a lack of storage capacity, but poor management.
“We accept the farm was reluctant to spread slurry with heavy rain forecast, but they should have realised the storage lagoon was close to overtopping and acted much sooner to reduce the risk of pollution.”