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Slurry spill cost owners of farm £5,600

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

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The owners of a North Devon farm have been fined thousands of pounds for polluting a stream near a 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 Barnstaple magistrates 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, while a dark brown effluent was discharging from a pipe on the left bank of the watercourse.

Once the pollution had been traced to the farm, officers found the slurry store was "brim full" and there was a pool of slurry on the ground beside the store.

The slurry had run down a bank into a ditch before draining under a gateway and into the stream.

Paul Colwill, spokesman for the partnership, said wet weather had prevented him 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."

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