Farmer admits failings after pollution case

A farmer who was fined £19,000 for polluting a protected watercourse has admitted failing to carry out remedial works on time.

Monday, 12th February 2018, 7:30 am
Berwick Magistrates' Court

Last January, John Laing and his company Dalbury Ltd, which operates New Heaton Farm near Cornhill, pleaded guilty to two charges of polluting a tributary that flows into the River Till and another for failing to improve a silage storage unit.

The defendant appeared at Berwick Magistrates’ Court last Thursday on a civil charge brought by the Environment Agency for failing to carry out all of the remedial works and steps relating to a silo before the June 30 deadline.

These were to construct channels at the perimeter of the base of the silo to collect any polluting matter that may escape; construct a sub-surface effluent tank; install a channel or pipe to carry effluent from the perimeter channels; ensure the base of the silo, effluent tank and channels and walls of any pipes are impermeable; and to supply to the Environment Agency written certification from a chartered engineer that the works have been completed to the standards required.

The court heard that that Envionment Agency officers made several visits to the farm before and after the deadline for carrying out the improvements. They were aware of plans having been drawn up but works did not begin until late summer.

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“There remained a continued risk of pollution and there is no evidence that works were done prior to the court order or that works carried out subsequently met the required standards,” said the prosecution.

The 54-year-old defendant, of East Learmouth, told magistrates the works had now been completed.

He blamed the delay on financial problems brought about by the breakdown of his marriage which meant he could not pay for the works to be carried out.

The case was adjourned for a month to allow the defendant time to prove the works had been done to the required standard.