A FARMER has been ordered to pay £16,339 in fines and costs after polluting a tributary of the River Divelish with slurry.
Appearing before Weymouth magistrates last Wednesday, dairy farmer Clifford Yeatman of Lowbrook Farm in Belchawell, near Blandford, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,189 costs after pleading guilty to two offences of causing water pollution. He was also ordered to pay a £150 victim surcharge.
Environment Agency officers discovered the pollution during a routine inspection of the river on 20th September 2012.
Slurry from the farm's herd of cows is used to power an anaerobic digester to produce energy. Digestate, a by-product of this process, is stored in the farm's slurry lagoon along with other farm waste prior to being spread on surrounding land as a fertiliser.
Mr Yeatman said he was aware there had been a spillage of milk parlour washings but didn't realise they had escaped into a nearby stream. The leak was caused by a jammed float switch.
Agency officers witnessed a second pollution on the River Divelish when they returned on 28th September. On this occasion, the farm's slurry lagoon was found to be overflowing to the river.
Kerri Atwood of the Environment Agency said: "Slurry and farm washings can kill fish and other aquatic life by adding toxic pollutants and stripping oxygen from the water. It is therefore important farmers make every effort to ensure these farm wastes do not escape into our rivers and streams."
Mr Yeatman has two previous convictions for water pollution.