Building firm’s riverside dumping costs £15,000

Excavating a new pond without consent and apparently dumping the spoil over water voles' burrows has led to the prosecution of a Somerset building company.

In May 2018, an Environment Agency (EA) officer visited Manor Farm, Blackford, where a large pond had been dug close to the Blackford stream by Hopkins Developments Ltd (now known as Hopkins Estates Ltd). He found spoil dumped alongside 55 metres of the watercourse, part of the river Yeo catchment.

A subsequent ecological survey found water voles present upstream and downstream of the site. There was little sign of them along the damaged section of the bank.

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