Farmer fined for dredging protected trout breeding area
A farmer and his contractor have been fined £7,000 for destroying trout breeding grounds while dredging a burn.
Charles Wellwood was fined £3,400 and John Meiklem Drainage Contractors £3,750 after they admitted digging up the Hatton Burn near Milnathort.
There were signs that trout spawning habitats and recently-laid brown trout eggs had been destroyed.
Prosecutors said there had been a "significant detrimental effect" on the ecosystem.
The burn in question, also known as the Burleigh Burn, is one of the main feeder streams of Loch Leven, an important trout fishery.
The stream is designated as a special protection area, a site of scientific interest and an internationally designated wetlands site.
Wellwood failed to consult the Scottish Environment Protection Agency before carrying out the work in November 2012.
The work involved using heavy plant machinery to dredge the waterway, fell trees and rip up bankside vegetation.
Wellwood and the contractor pleaded guilty to an offence under the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act at Perth Sheriff Court.
Patrick Hughes, procurator fiscal for wildlife and environment, said "no professional advice or authorisation was sought" for the work.
"As a result, there was a significant detrimental effect on the habitat, which may have a long-lasting effect," he added.