A farmer from Somerset has been fined - for the second time in five years - for polluting a watercourse with slurry in three separate incidents.

Ben Hembrow of Huntham Farm, Stoke St Gregory, pleaded guilty to polluting a tributary of Sedgemoor Old Rhyne at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on October 6.

The 33-year-old was ordered to pay the Environment Agency costs of £9,567.38, as well as fines totalling £1,689 and a victim surcharge of £168.

This amounts to over £11,000.


In June 2019, following a report of low dissolved oxygen levels on the Sedgemoor Old Rhyne, Environment Officers found the tributary Hembrow had polluted with slurry.

When they traced it backed the Huntham Farm they found that a slurry lagoon had overtopped and slurry had run across a farm track, collected in the orchard, and made its way to the watercourse, polluting more than 1.5km.

A week later, slurry was still visible on the bed of the watercourse.

The fine for this incident was £921.00.

On October 29, 2019, Environment Officers once again attended a report of pollution at the same site. This time their investigations found a surface water drain discharging to the tributary, from run-off from dirty yards.

The fine for this incident was £384.

On January 30, 2020, and again following reports, officers found the tributary polluted with slurry due to spreading on nearby fields. This incident resulted in a fine of £384.

Not the first time

This farmer had been found guilty of polluting the same tributary back in 2016, where he pleaded guilty and was also ordered to pay to the courts.

“It was disappointing to find continual pollution from Huntham Farm following a previous prosecution in 2016,” said Jo Masters of the Environment Agency.

“We always strive to work with farmers to reduce the risk of pollution, protect the environment, and ensure they are compliant with the regulations.”