Somerset farm business Alvis Brothers Ltd of Lye Cross Farm, a cheese supplier to major supermarkets, has been ordered to pay £37,184 for polluting a tributary of the Congrebury Yeo.

The farm supplies cheese to national UK supermarkets including Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury's, and exports to more that 40 countries around the world.

It was first visited by an environment officer following a report of slurry pollution to a tributary of the river near Cheddar on June 28, 2019.

The source of the pollution was found to be run-off from a heap of farmyard manure at Lye Cross Farm. The run-off has entered a surface water drain that led to the stream and more than half a kilometre was polluted.

Alvis Brothers Ltd. built a basic bund to contain the run off, however when environment officer returned in July effluent was leaking from said bund and again, contaminating the water course.

The following week, environment officers found chronic impact to the aquatic invertebrates living downstream while sensitive species – which indicate good water quality – were only found upstream.

[caption id="attachment_325398" align="aligncenter" width="960"] June 2019: gross sewage fungus growth downstream of the discharge Image one and two:[/caption]

Then again, on a site return later that month (July 31), environment officers noted the leak of the slurry from the bund was still happening.

On a farm visit in September, officers once witnessed a second pollution, this time as a result of pig slurry being spread on nearby fields. This entered a field drain and was discharging into the same water course.

At the case hearing on December 2, for the summer polluting, the farm business was ordered to pay £22,000 and for the September polluting, the fine was £7,000 – adding the costs of £8,003.02 and victim surcharge of £181 this amount to the above mentioned total of £37,184.

In court, District Judge Lynne Matthews described the offences as “disgraceful” and “appalling”.

Also commenting on the case was Environment Agency Environment Officer, Jenny Hasell, who said:

Repeated pollution events from Lye Cross Farm have caused protracted damage to the local environment.

“We expect much better from such a large and experienced farming business, both for the environment and the local communities.”