Anglers reach out-of-court settlement with fertiliser company after fish kill

An angling club has reached an out-of-court settlement with liquid fertiliser company Omex Agriculture Ltd after a pollution incident resulted in more than 100,000 fish being killed.

River Witham. Source: Geograph

Omex Agriculture was found guilty of the offence earlier this year, in a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency (EA). 

The incident, which took place in March 2018, saw three million litres of ammonia escape from the liquid fertiliser company’s storage lagoon at Bardney and pollute a 46 km stretch of the river Witham, killing an estimated minimum of 135,000 fish. 

The company was ordered to pay a fine of £160,000 at Lincolnshire Magistrates, and ordered to pay the EA £350,000 in remediation. 

SEE MORE: The ENDS Report Fines Monitor

Boston and District Angling Association, represented by Fish Legal, has now reached an out-of-court settlement with Omex Agriculture for the offence. 

This is the second settlement Fish Legal has made with Omex for pollution on the river Witham, the first being on behalf of the Grantham Angling Club and for a different offence in 2016.

Cameron Hogg, solicitor at Fish Legal, said: “No amount of money will ever make up for the distress experienced by our angler members in seeing the river Witham destroyed by this pollution, described by the Judge in the criminal case as foreseeable, avoidable and negligent. 

“Nevertheless, we’re glad that we were able to successfully claim for damages on the club’s behalf and that the fertiliser company did not force us to go to court.”

Boston & District Angling Association honorary secretary and treasurer Barbara Clifton said: “As any angling club will tell you, getting that call to say that dead fish have been seen onyour waters is the stuff of nightmares.  

“The fish kill was devastating for us given that the club works so hard to provide angling for the community in our local area, particularly young and disabled anglers.  We look forward to the time when the fishing we have on the [river] Witham is back to its best.” 

Omex Agriculture Ltd. has been approached for comment.