Company fined for digging up Belladrum Burn near Beauly
An Inverness-shire company has been fined £30,000 for carrying out engineering works on a burn without the legal authorisation to do so.
SD Cameron pled guilty at Inverness Sheriff Court to deepening and widening part of the Belldrum Burn, near Beauly.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said the removal of gravel from the bed of the burn had affected its ecology.
Sediment stirred up by the excavation work flowed into the River Beauly.
Sepa was alerted on 28 July 2010.
The agency said its officers were told a large tractor had taken about 20 trailer-loads of stones, gravel and sand from the site.
Sepa said the work had been done without the appropriate licence and had raised the risk of erosion and flooding in the area.
Investigating officer Peter Watson, said: "The work carried out on the Belladrum Burn had a significant impact on the water environment."
He added: "The change in habitat resulting from the works had clearly made this a much less suitable environment for many families of macroinvertebrates and affected the ecology of the burn."