Farmers fined for ‘devastating’ pollution incident following ‘catastrophic failure’ of slurry store

Two farmers have pleaded guilty to polluting a river in Wales following the “catastrophic failure” of a slurry store which had a “devastating impact” on the river’s aquatic life.

Dewi and Barry Jones of Glanperis Farm in Ceredigion, west Wales, were ordered by Aberystwyth Magistrates Court to pay £15,000 between them in fines and costs after the collapse of a 40-year old slurry store released approximately 75,000 gallons of slurry into the afon Peris, in June 2020.

According to Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which brought the prosecution, the slurry store had never received formal maintenance and assessment. 

Dr Carol Fielding, NRW’s Ceredigion environment team leader, said that the incident had a “devastating impact on aquatic life” in the river.

“Assessing the number of dead fish was often impossible because the extent of the pollution made the water too thick to see through”, she said, adding that she was pleased that NRW was able to hold the farmers to account.

“This incident was foreseeable, avoidable and should never have happened. It shows the importance of regular and proper maintenance of slurry stores,” she said.

The farmers pleaded guilty to water pollution charges under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2016 and the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

Barry Jones was fined £1,332 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £133. Dewi Jones was fined a combined amount of £1,136 and told to pay a victim surcharge of £113.

The court also ordered the farmers to pay NRW’s legal costs of £12,467.90, split equally between them. 

Earlier this year, NRW brought another successful prosecution following a pollution incident which resulted in the largest fish kill ever recorded in north Wales. Welsh Water was found guilty of illegally discharging raw sewage from a wastewater treatment plant, landing the company with a £180,000 fine.