Farm supplying Sainsbury's, Waitrose and M&S fined for polluting river with manure

Environment officers found runoff from a heap of manure at Lye Cross Farm.

Environment officers found runoff from a heap of manure at Lye Cross Farm. - Credit: Environment Agency

A North Somerset farm business has been ordered to pay fines in excess of £35,000 for polluting the Congresbury Yeo with farmyard manure.

This month, Bristol Magistrates Court heard that Alvis Brothers Ltd, of Lye Cross Farm in Redhill, was visited by an environment officer in June 2019 following reports of slurry pollution to a stream of the Congresbury Yeo.

A basic bund was built to prevent the slurry from leaking but a return visit the following month found that this was ineffective. A subsequent investigation by the Environment Agency found a chronic impact on the aquatic invertebrates living downstream of the farm, while sensitive species, indicating a good water quality, were only found upstream.

Another follow up visit, on July 31, found the bund was still leaking the slurry from a heap of manure and a further return from officers on September 18 revealed a second pollution to the same watercourse - this time the result of pig slurry being spread on nearby fields.

A fungus growth was discovered downstream from the discharge.

A fungus growth was discovered downstream from the discharge. - Credit: Environment Agency

The farm produces cheese for major supermarkets such as Sainsbury, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer, and is exported to more than 40 countries worldwide.

District Judge Lynne Matthews told the offenders that she had not dealt with a case of pollution 'where the culprits had not had as many slaps across the hand from the Environment Agency'.

District Judge Matthews also described the offences as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘appalling’ - stating that Alvin Brothers Ltd's 70 years of experience in the industry should not have warranted ‘nurse-maiding’ by the Environment Agency.

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The company's website states: "We deeply regret and sincerely apologise for the incidents.  After 70 years of trading, Alvis Brothers remain committed to farming and producing high-quality food in harmony with the environment."

It also claims that it has worked with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust to improve the waterways surrounding the farm.

Environment Agency Environment Officer, Jenny Hasell, said: “Repeated pollution events from Lye Cross Farm have caused protracted damage to the local environment.

“We expect much better from such a large and experienced farming business, both for the environment and the local communities.

"If you are concerned about pollution to water or land, contact our 24-hour incident line on 0800 807060.”