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  1. #1

    Default Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    Following the huge pollution incident which killed fish along 5 miles of the river in 2016 the company responsible has walked away with an “enforcement undertaking”. and a fine of £40,000. Contractors for the company were blamed but have gone into liquidation and the company who continued to operate while aware that their installation was faulty has been let off the hook by NRW with civil sanctions rather than a prosecution.

    Glad to see the fine but once again NRW has allowed a wealthy polluter to remain free from prosecution and to continue to operate.

    Pencefn feeds has fixed assets of around a million pounds, the fine is pocket money for them.

    Here's the final say

    A major river pollution incident in Mid Wales has cost a company £40,000.

    Pencefn Feeds Ltd, near Tregaron has paid the sum after a detailed investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) into the incident in December 2016.

    Around18,000 fish are thought to have been killed on a five-mile stretch of the Teifi when approximately 44,000 gallons of pollutant leaked from an anaerobic digestion plant.

    The West Wales Rivers Trust will receive £15,000 to restore fish habitat in the area.

    And a further £5,000 will go to the Countryside Alliance Foundation to fund education activities about fish and the local environment for children in the Tregaron area.

    The payments are consistent with a potential fine and have been made as an “enforcement undertaking”. This means that the money directly benefits the local environment.

    The final £20,000 is being paid to recover all investigation and legal costs relating to the case.

    Ann Weedy, Mid Wales operations manager for Natural Resources Wales, said:

    “This has been a very complex and time-consuming investigation and we are pleased to see the financial penalty being used directly to repair some of the damage caused by this incident.

    “This will make the Teifi a better place for fish and other wildlife by fencing river banks and developing riverside vegetation.

    “We hope these payments serve as a reminder to businesses that we will take enforcement action if they pollute Wales’ environment and don’t operate responsibly.”

    As well as investigating the incident and overseeing the clean-up operation, NRW also investigated the roles of all companies involved in the incident.

    However, the sub-contractor mainly responsible for the incident, Hallmark Power Ltd, went into liquidation so no prosecution could be taken against them. And the main contractor, ComBigaS UK, also no longer exists, so no action could be taken against them either.

    ComBigaS Denmark had links to the project but has no legal basis in the UK and is therefore not covered by UK law.

    Site owner, Pencefn Feeds Ltd, had raised concerns with the companies about the quality of work, but this had not been acted upon. This would have provided significant mitigation if the matter had gone to court, so NRW concluded that accepting an enforcement undertaking was the best option in this case.

    Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Director of Afonydd Cymru, the umbrella body that represents Wales’ six Rivers Trusts commented:

    “This was a tragic case that was bad for the river Teifi and its fisheries.

    “Nonetheless, we commend the use of an Enforcement Undertaking to resolve the regulatory aspect of the case as some funding will now be put towards restoration within the catchment itself.

    “The resolution of longer term damage remains a separate issue.”

    Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, said:

    “Fishing for Schools is always grateful to receive funding to help us reach out to more young people who benefit from our unique approach to education through angling.

    “Funding coming from a pollution incident and resultant settlement whilst sad, will highlight the ever-present need to align conservation and the environment with our school work.

    “Tregaron has always been a bedrock of angling within the Welsh community and heritage. We fully intend to enhance and extend that rich legacy by putting this award to good use.”

    NRW has been monitoring the Teifi since the incident and confirms there has been minimal effect on invertebrates. Salmon fry have been found in the affected area, so it is likely that at least some eggs did survive.

    However, juvenile and adult salmon were killed. Large numbers of brown trout were also killed, and this species will take some time to recover.

    Ann Weedy continued:

    “The Teifi is one of the most iconic and important recreational and net fisheries in Wales and an internationally important Special Area of Conservation for endangered fish such as lampreys, salmon and bullhead.

    “We all need to work together to do all we can to restore the river and reduce the number of pollution incidents damaging our precious environment in Wales.”

    NRW has carried out more than 100 pollution prevention visits to farms in Ceredigion and the Teifi catchment in the past year and these have helped reduce the risk of pollution from farm slurry.

    It has also inspected the other three anaerobic digestion plants in Ceredigion to ensure that their pollution prevention measures are suitable.

    Pencefn Feeds Ltd has now applied for an environmental permit so they can continue to operate.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    "Pencefn Feeds Ltd has now applied for an environmental permit so they can continue to operate."

    All the local anglers should be circulated by their clubs and advised to object to the application. That is something practical that can be done to halt pollution of this type.
    https://sussex-trout-fishing.com/

  3. #3

    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    That, at least, would be some kind of result but the whole sorry business which took nearly three years to complete was entirely predictable, polluter walking away, reputation intact, vague blame directed to subsidiary operators who have been given sufficient time to disappeared into the ether.
    Musha rig um du rum da

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    ComBigaS UK, also no longer exists, so no action could be taken against them either.

    ComBigaS Denmark had links to the project but has no legal basis in the UK and is therefore not covered by UK law.

    I thought back in (and we still are) 2016 we were in the EU.
    Setup a branch of your company, pollute in another country, close branch and walk with no come back.
    I have a wife and daughter. I'm always wrong and outnumbered. Hidden Content

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    Perhaps the perpetrators didn't pay then but it now looks like they will be paying, albeit inadvertently, once these new rules, regarding "slurry-spreading" are introduced. Link: Welsh farmers' anger over slurry pollution rule changes - BBC News
    2019 & it will be time for a change.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    Quote Originally Posted by taffy1 View Post
    Perhaps the perpetrators didn't pay then but it now looks like they will be paying, albeit inadvertently, once these new rules, regarding "slurry-spreading" are introduced. Link: Welsh farmers' anger over slurry pollution rule changes - BBC News

    That could be a disaster in the short term.
    "The new rules could include preventing farms in Wales from spreading slurry on their fields from mid-October to the start of February"
    I can see this resulting in three and a half months worth of slurry going onto the fields in February/March. This might be just right to kill off any newly hatched alevins. Also with no upgrade to old knackered slurry pits I can see plenty of overflowing pits or worse still burst ones giving big point source slurry pollution events.
    It isn't ideal having it spread onto wet ground all winter but at least it is diffuse and generally less damaging than big one off slurry spills.
    The ideal would be well maintained and bunded slurry stores and spreading only in dry weather on flattish ground or better still a huge foot and mouth outbreak to clear the land of cows...


    Andy

  7. #7

    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    A step in the right direction but as you say Andy it leaves months of slurry in storage like a sword of Damocles hanging over our rivers. Predictions of a race to spread slurry prior to the ban ring true.

    Slurry is industrial waste, farmers have been given massive leeway in its disposal over the years as legislation has fallen far behind modern dairy production, if factories used these practices they'd be closed down and prosecuted, our guardians of the countryside however defer costs by continuing with these damaging practices which were, at best, reasonable fifty years ago, now, perhaps, those easy, irresponsible days may be ending.

    There's still a long way to go in managing agricultural pollution but this piece of legislation represents a glimmer of hope for anyone who's interested in the environment, it's ridiculously overdue but comparatively brave in its challenge to established farming practices, one caveat though, how Brexit and the ensuing bonfire of legislation will affect these moves towards enforced sustainable farming is anyone's guess.
    Last edited by diawl bach; 08-11-2019 at 07:56 PM.
    Musha rig um du rum da

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    Did NRW say why they chose not to prosecute directors or staff of the liquidated and wound up companies elsewhere? I can't see that in the detail you pasted (thanks).
    The law allows for this, as I'm sure you know.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Teifi pollution - no prosecution.

    Hi WF. At the very least ComBigAs should have been prosecuted for choosing to operate under that name alone....seriously though, this case - and a couple of others which have directly affected the river - shows an ingrained institutional timidity when it comes to prosecuting polluters, Wales has to be seen as open for business when it comes to the exploitation of our natural resources regardless of the impact those businesses have, NRW's minimalist prosecution record reflects that ethos.

    Civil sanctions are a cop out and while the trusts may be grateful for the income the process offers nothing by way of a deterrent to polluters who might otherwise have a visible stain on their image were a criminal prosecution to have resulted from their negligence. Civil sanctions wash whiter.

    The whole issue is immensely frustrating but anyway, this is the statement.

    From Natural Resources Wales / Pencefn Feeds Ltd Enforcement Undertaking




    Why are you not taking enforcement action against the other companies involved?

    Hallmark Power Ltd were employed as the contractors but no longer exist and therefore no prosecution can be taken against them.

    ComBigaS UK were set up by ComBigaS Denmark specifically for the construction of two anaerobic digestion plants in the UK. ComBigaS UK also no longer exist and therefore no prosecution can be taken against them.

    omBigaS Denmark has links to the project, it wasn’t directly involved. The company is based outside the UK and not covered by UK law.
    Musha rig um du rum da

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