Welsh 'super dairy farm' fined £36k for polluting stream with slurry

The dairy farm has been fined £36,000 by Llanelli Magistrates
The dairy farm has been fined £36,000 by Llanelli Magistrates

A Welsh 'super' dairy farm has been fined £36,000 after cattle slurry waste polluted a nearby stream.

Howell and Susan Richards, who have 1,800 cows with a turnover of £6.3 million, had pleaded guilty to five counts of polluting Fernhill Brook with slurry.

The court heard that tests were carried out by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) downstream from Cwrt Malle farm, where the stream was 'discoloured and foaming, with a strong odour present'.

At Llanelli Magistrates, Aled Owen, representing the firm, said it would now plead guilty to a further charge at Cwrt Malle, which had previously been denied at a hearing on April 28.

Prosecutor John Tarrant told the court that Cwrt Malle had previously been fined £5,000 for a similar offence in 2013.

'Strong smell of slurry'

"I believe this is one of, if not the largest dairy farm in Wales," he told the court.

"On December 27, NRW have attended in a response to a call because Fernhill was discoloured and there was a large amount of foaming," he said.

"There was a strong smell of slurry."

But Mr Owen blamed extremely heavy rainfall: "It had been the highest rainfall recorded in 100 years," he said.

"This is a very well run and modern farm."

District Judge David Parsons fined the farm a total of £36,000 and ordered the firm to pay costs of £8,500 and a victim surcharge of £120.