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Pig Farm Pays Fine for Pungent Slurry Odours

by 5m Editor
6 October 2011, at 8:56am

UK - An East Keal pig farming company has been found guilty and fined a total of 35,000 for failing to control smells and not complying with an Environment Agency enforcement notice to remove slurry from under pig sheds.

Belmont Farms Ltd of South View Farm in East Keal near Spilsby in Lincolnshire had denied two offences of breaching its permit and one of failing to comply with an enforcement notice.

District Judge Stobart sitting at Skegness Magistrates’ Court today (Wed) found the company guilty after a two-and-a-half day trial and ordered it to pay full costs of 317,500.

Mr Richard Banwell, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said industrial activities such as intensive farming needed a permit which would include conditions to protect the environment and local communities.

He said Belmont Farms had breached those conditions between 1 August 2008 and 1 September 2010 and failed to comply with the enforcement notice issued on 17 May 2010.

The court heard the company failed to follow guidance on managing odour from the farm and as a result smells were detected in the local community.

Officers attended the area on numerous occasions and on some dates experienced strong, distinct, pungent pig/slurry odours that were likely to cause annoyance.

The court heard evidence that keeping slurry in pits under the pig sheds for too long had caused the smells and had failed to monitor or properly investigate despite verbal and written advice from Environment Agency officers. This led to an enforcement notice.

The company had also saved the cost of transporting it to a lagoon built for the purpose 1.5 km away.

The court was told the farm rears pigs from 50kg to slaughter weight. Their permit allowed for the rearing of up to 6,500 pigs.

One of the conditions of the permit stated that emissions from the farm should be free from odour at levels likely to cause annoyance outside the site.

Between 18 September 2007 and the court case the Agency has received 920 official complaints.

Several letters were sent to the company about breaches of the permit and the number of complaints that the Environment Agency had received.

William Costello, a director of the company told the court they had done everything they could to deal with complaints.

Charlie Miller, a farm manager for the company, said they had taken steps to get the slurry removed as fast as they practically could, they had reduced stocks on site and they had also made an adjustment to the ventilation of the sheds.

Judge Stobart found the company guilty. He acknowledged that it had made some efforts to deal with the problem but that smells were detected by the officers on certain days. He said there was a consistent failure to remove slurry in breach of the enforcement notice.

When setting the fine he said he was taking into account the company’s means.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Emma Benfield said: "The industry should always look to adopt the best available techniques and consider other approaches beyond traditional measures when problems occur."

Belmont Farms Ltd pleaded not guilty to:

  1. Between 1 August 2008 and 5 April 2010 at South View Farm Pig Unit, Fen Lane, East Keal, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4AY, as the Operator of a Environmental Permit KP3831MP you failed to comply with Condition 3.4.1 of the said Permit in that you failed to ensure that emissions from the activities were free from odours at levels likely to cause annoyance outside the site, as perceived by an authorised officer of the Agency, and that you failed to use appropriate measures, including those specified in schedule 1 table S1.4, to prevent or where this is not practicable, to minimise, the odour.

    Contrary to Regulation 38(1)(b) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007. Fined 32,000

  2. Between 6 April 2010 and 1 September 2010 at South View Farm Pig Unit, Fen Lane, East Keal, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4AY, as the Operator of a Environmental Permit KP3831MP you failed to comply with Condition 3.4.1 of the said Permit in that you failed to ensure that emissions from the activities were free from odours at levels likely to cause annoyance outside the site, as perceived by an authorised officer of the Agency, and that you failed to use appropriate measures, including those specified in schedule 1 table S1.4, to prevent or where this is not practicable, to minimise, the odour.

    Contrary to Regulation 38(2) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Fined 32,000

  3. On or after 20 May 2010 at South View Farm Pig Unit, Fen Lane, East Keal, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4AY, as the Operator of a Environmental Permit KP3831MP you failed to comply with an Enforcement Notice dated 17 May 2010 and served on you pursuant to Regulation 36(1) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 in that you failed to remove all slurry from beneath each shed.

    Contrary to Regulation 38(3) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Fined 31,000