An ‘energy from waste’ company has been ordered to pay £3,570 in fines and costs after slurry escaped into the River Tamar from a farm near Launceston, Cornwall. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.


The spill was reported to the Agency on June 8, 2006 by Andigestion Ltd who said there had been a spill of slurry from a farm store at Hele Barton Farm, Boyton, and it was entering a watercourse.


The River Tamar is a high quality river that is known to support significant populations of salmon and sea trout and is used extensively for recreational fishing.


AnDigestion Ltd, of Summerleaze Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, are a company of the Summerleaze group and operate a site permitted under the Pollution Prevention and Control regulations at Holsworthy, Devon. The process uses waste, including agricultural waste, and converts it to energy and a fertiliser to spread back on the fields.


Arriving at the riverside an Environment Agency officer could immediately smell the waste and saw slurry running across fields and down a track into a small tributary. Investigations revealed the slurry was being collected by an Andigestion employee who failed to close the sluice gates on the tank that contained approximately 300,000 litres of slurry.


Despite attempts to contain the slurry on surrounding farmland, some entered a small stream and then the River Tamar, killing three brown trout, two bullheads, and 100 minnow and Stone Loach.


‘The discharge of slurry was approximately 23 times stronger than crude sewage and would be considered toxic to fish and other aquatic life,’ said Rodney Hill from the Environment Agency.


‘The company have been fully co-operative during the investigation. The farm owner and Andigestion Ltd made efforts to remedy the effects of the pollution.’


Appearing before Bodmin magistrates, AnDigestion Limited, were fined a total of £2,500 and ordered to pay £1,070 costs after pleading guilty to permitting polluting matter to enter controlled waters contrary to section 85(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991.