Cambridge Uni pays £35k for slurry spills

8th July 2013


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IEMA

Polluting tributaries of the River Great Ouse twice in the same year has resulted in the University of Cambridge being fined a total of £28,000

Cambridge magistrates’ court also ordered the university to pay costs of £7,363.

The penalties were imposed after slurry from Park Farm in Madingley, Cambridge, which is owned and operated by the university, entered the tributaries in May and June 2012.

Investigation by Environment Agency officers on the first occasion revealed that slurry had entered the Beck Brook tributary via an unknown drainage pipe, affecting a 1.9km stretch of the stream and damaging water quality.

One month later, slurry from a second field escaped in multiple directions, again through unidentified drainage pipes, entering field ditches leading to Beck Brook and Callow Brook. The second incident followed heavy overnight rain, which waterlogged the field.

Claire Corfield, prosecuting for the agency, told the court that the causes of both incidents were the same and that the university had failed to take appropriate preventive measures after the first incident. Tankering the slurry, for example, could have prevented a second episode of pollution.

The university pleaded guilty to two offences under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. A spokesperson said the incidents followed misjudgments on expected rainfall and soil moisture levels.

The university also admitted that the amount of slurry applied both times was estimated to have been in excess of the recommended rates provided in the code of good agricultural practice guidance.

In a statement, the university said it deeply regretted the incidents, adding that it had investigated the circumstances and that measures have been put in place to ensure there would be no repeat.

The university has spent in more than £4,500 on a new flow meter and on a remote emergency engine stop for its spreading system.

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