North Devon Magistrates Court heard how slurry was spread illegally and stream was dammed to collect water for nearby reservoir.

A Parkham dairy farm owner and manager have been ordered to pay £30,680 in fines and costs for illegally polluting and damming a stream.

Peter Willes and Richard Marsden, who run P.W. and R.M. Farming partnership and Parkham Farms Limited, pleaded guilty to three offences.

Marsden asked for another offence of slurry pollution that occurred in March at Beckland Farm to be taken into consideration.

On January 8, 2014, at Higher Alminstone Farm in Woolsery, P.W. and R.M. Farming spread slurry on a field next to the A39 between Downham Cross and Hobby Lodge.

The field is owned by the Clovelly Estate but rented to the farm partnership.

It rained heavily and flushed the slurry into the nearby watercourse, heavily polluting the small stream.

Then on April 22, 2014, Environment Agency officers found a dam constructed in a stream at Beckland Farm, and water was being pumped to a new reservoir.

A third offence related to waste from Parkham Farms cheese factor being spread onto land in breach of an environmental permit.

North Devon Magistrates’ Court fines Wiles £4,280 and Marsden £3,780. Parkham Farms partnership was fined £22,620.

Liz Iles for 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.

“Farmers should maximise the use of slurry as fertilizer, ensure that slurry lagoons are empty by the start of winter and also have spare capacity for emergencies.”

Speaking after the case, Willes said: “We were relieved that the court acknowledged that no environmental harm occurred as a result of these incidents but we take responsibility for having made some unintentional mistakes and we have cooperated fully with the Environment Agency including admitting these technical breeches of the regulations at the earliest opportunity.”