The Environment Agency is reminding operators to take precautions to ensure the correct processes are in place when spreading on land.

It follows a case where a farmer was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling more than £2,000 for mistakenly spreading sewage sludge on neighbouring fields.

Richard Taylor, 58, of Great Bavington Farm, Great Bavington, Newcastle, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court last month where he pleaded guilty to breaching an environmental permit by depositing controlled waste.

The court heard that in September 2019, agricultural contractor Richard Taylor’s had been contracted to spread sewage sludge on behalf of Northumbrian Water in accordance with the Sludge Use in Agriculture Regulations 1989.

The company’s tractor drivers mistakenly spread the sludge on a neighbouring field at Stanley belonging to a farmer who was then unable to cultivate the land for a significant period.

The court decided to reduce the fine to account for the substantial loss in business suffered by Taylor as a result of the incident leading to the loss of the spreading contract.

Neil Paisley, senior agricultural officer at the Environment Agency in the North East, said:

With land spreading season approaching it’s a timely reminder for operators to ensure they follow the correct procedures to ensure they spread safely and in the correct place in accordance with their environmental permits.

"Land spreading waste to land is an alternative source to traditional fertilisers.

"We have environmental permits in place to protect the environment from these activities and will take action against anyone who breaches environmental law. In this case it has proven costly for both the operator and the owner of the land."