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Farm must pay £68k for pollution
6:10am Thursday 28th November 2013 in News
A FARM has been ordered to pay £68,000 after admitting killing thousands of fish when pesticide leaked into a river.
About 15,000 fish were killed in the River Colne and Toppesfield Brook when a crop sprayer tipped over, leaking more than 5,000 of toxic chemicals.
Anglian Water was taking water from the river to fill Ardleigh Reservoir at the time of the accident on June 13 last year and had to stop operations for 27 days.
Berwick Hall Farm, of Toppesfield, admitted causing pollution at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.
The farm was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £34,000 costs.
The court heard Matthew Clark was towing the crop sprayer over a badly constructed bridge when it tipped over, spilling agricultural chemical into Toppesfield Brook.
Mr Clark phoned the Environment Agency, which built three dams to try and contain the spread of the agricultural chemicals.
Despite round-the-clock efforts, approximately 12,300 fish were killed in the River Colne and 3,000 in Toppsefield brook.
Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, asked magistrates to take into account the catastrophic impact on the brook and river.
She said the accident could have been prevented if the bridge had been constructed and maintained properly or if Mr Clark had chosen a different route.
After the hearing, Peter Cooke, an Environment Agency officer, said: “This incident had a catastrophic impact on fish and aquatic life and affected drinking water supplies many miles away.
“The prompt reporting enabled the Environment Agency to dam the river and save some of the fish.
“The significant ecological damage combined with the fine and costs incurred should act as a sobering reminder to all pesticide users of the acute and toxic nature of the chemicals they use.”
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