Clay company fined for polluting Dartmoor stream

A clay company has been fined for polluting a stream on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.

Smallhanger Brook at Crownhill Down near Plymouth was polluted by soil run-off from land where quarrying operations were being extended by Sibelco UK.

The firm, based in Sandbach, Cheshire, pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay £7,210 in fines and costs.

The case was brought by the Environment Agency (EA).

Sibelco said the pollution had partly resulted from its efforts to protect certain rare species at the recently cleared site at Crownhill Down.

Preventative measures

It had been told by ecologists and conservationists to avoid disrupting flows of water from the site to protect mosses and other species that thrive in damp conditions.

The EA said when Sibelco was first made aware of the pollution in July last year, it constructed a bund (dam) around the site to contain flows.

However, following more reports of pollution later that month, an EA officer inspected the site and found the containment had been breached.

The agency said anyone undertaking major engineering works must provide adequate containment to ensure nearby watercourses are not polluted.

"There were no pollution prevention measures in place to try to reduce the environmental impact of potentially harmful run-off from this site," spokesman Jon Snowden said.

"Sediment entering watercourses blankets the riverbed and clogs the gills of fish and other aquatic life."

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