South Lincs duck egg producer fined �8,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly �5,000 for pollution

DUCK egg producer Alan Twell was fined �8,000 and ordered to pay full costs of �4,917 after pleading guilty to grossly polluting the Mallard Hurn Drain, Donington, Spalding with liquid waste and slurry. Spalding Magistrates Court also ordered him to pay

DUCK egg producer Alan Twell was fined �8,000 and ordered to pay full costs of �4,917 after pleading guilty to grossly polluting the Mallard Hurn Drain, Donington, Spalding with liquid waste and slurry.

Spalding Magistrates' Court also ordered him to pay full compensation of �669 for work to reduce the impact of pollution to the South Forty Foot Drain.

The court was told that although Twell had been working in a farming partnership with his wife for more than 20 years raising ducks to produce eggs, the ducks had only been reared at their own property close to the Mallard Hurn Drain since May 2009.

The pollution came to light in July 2009 when there had been reports to the Environment Agency of a fish kill in the drain.

Investigating officers found that as well as some dead fish, the water was pale grey and streaked with what appeared to be fungus and there was a strong rotting smell. They traced it back to Mallard House Farm where Twell trades as AC & KL Partnership.

Miss Claire Bentley, prosecuting, told the court that a yard at the farm was surrounded by duck barns and the officers noticed that liquids were draining from the barn entrances into gullies. Twell told them the gullies took dirty water and slurry effluent from the barn roofs and farm yard to a watercourse via a perforated pipe.

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Samples taken on the day of the reported pollution immediately below where the pipe discharged into the ditch showed a BOD of 462 milligrams per litre, ammonia of 20.2 milligrams per litre and suspended solids of 960 milligrams per litre.

Discharges with a BOD in excess of 200mgms per litre are grossly polluting, ammonia is normally found at levels less than 1 milligram per litre and the higher the number of suspended solids, the more likely it is that it will settle and smother the aquatic life.

Miss Bentley told magistrates that a study of the ecology of 400m of a tributary leading to the drain showed that the gross pollution had significantly changed the invertebrate community so that only taxa which are tolerant to severe pollution were found alive.

She said more than 600m of the Mallard Hurn Drain itself was also severely affected and dead pike were found.

Twell told officers that after the visit by Agency officers to the farm he had created a lagoon to collect the dirty water and slurry, cleaned out the duck barns and brought in an environmental cleaning company to clean the drains and collect 2,000 gallons of waste liquid.

More than a month after the pollution was reported officers found that the pipe between the lagoon and the watercourse had not been blocked.

Miss Bentley told the court the discharge or waste liquid and slurry into the watercourse was intentional and was, in fact, normal practice as a means of disposal.

'The discharge could have been prevented if good farming practice had been followed.'

Twell told officers that he only became aware of the problem when Environment Agency officers arrived at his farm.

After the hearing Agency officer Graham Cantellow said: 'Mr. Twell should have been aware of his responsibility to manage the waste produced by commercially reared ducks and about the causes and results of pollution.

'All operators in this sector should read the Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water, Soil and Air which provides invaluable advice to farmers, growers and land managers on how to handle, store, use, spread or dispose of any substances that could pollute the environment.'

The code is available in hard copy, free of charge, from The Stationery Office, PO Box 29, Norwich, NR3 1GN (ISBN 9780112432845).

Contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 to report dead fish and pollution.

Twell pleaded guilty to:

On or about 6 July 2009 you did cause poisonous noxious or polluting matter, namely slurry effluent, to enter controlled waters, namely the Mallard Hurn Drain a tributary of the South Forty Foot Drain at Mallard Drove, Mallard Hurn, Donington, Spalding.

Contrary to section 85(1) and section 85(6) Water Resources Act 1991.

Compensation for reducing impact of pollution in south 40ft drain. In mitigation Mr Benjamin Ellis said Twell regretted the incident and has taken action to prevent further pollution incidents including relocating the ducks to a different site and constructing a new sump and septic tank at a cost of �10,000