Bilsthorpe firm fined £20,000 for polluting countryside lakes

A BILSTHORPE firm which polluted two countryside lakes with red diesel has been hit with a £20,000 fine and forced to pay more than £10,000 in costs.

Strawson Ltd, a farming and vegetable packing business, admitted polluting agricultural land around Rainworth Water and Rufford Abbey Country Park Lake with the fuel in November 2009.

The diesel drained off the land and discharged to a nearby watercourse, causing pollution to around four kilometres of the two lakes.

The incident was highlighted when the Environment Agency received reports of oil on Rainworth Water.

Eventually, this was traced to a surface water sewer outlet pipe which had been contaminated via two land drainage discharge pipes from farmland adjacent.

The original source of the pollution was from a damaged diesel tank.

Rainwater had accumulated in the outer containment tank and a Strawson Ltd employee pumped the water out of the bund, not knowing that it was contaminated with red diesel.

Unknown to Strawson Ltd and the Environment Agency, the disposal area was under-drained as part of a wider system that drained adjacent fields and this provided a direct pathway to a tributary of Rainworth Water.

An Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said: “Regulations state that waste water that is contaminated with oil must be disposed of carefully and with all the necessary paperwork.

“It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that their activities do not impact on the quality of the local environment.

“We take such pollution incidents seriously and will prosecute where circumstances justify.”

In mitigation, Strawson Ltd said it took its environmental responsibilities very seriously, and that this was a regrettable and unintentional incident.

The company commented that it has always been committed to robust environmental management on all its farms, and is regularly audited in respect of that.

Strawson Ltd itself reported the incident to the Environment Agency and took immediate steps to contain the spill.

The firm also added that it worked closely with the Environment Agency during the clean up, and noted that in the two years since the incident the area affected has returned to normal.

The company, which appeared at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, also had to pay a £15 victim surcharge.