Grantham farmer fined £15,000 after he admits polluting River Witham

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A farmer was fined £15,000 by magistrates on Monday after he admitted responsibility for an accident which polluted the River Witham and killed many hundreds of fish.

Robert Charles Grindal, 42, of South Lodge Farm, Lobthorpe, Grantham admitted causing poisonous, noxious or polluting waste or matter to enter controlled waters following an incident in April of this year.

The court heard how a tanker carrying 10,000 litres of fertiliser was being driven by an employee of Mr Grindal’s when it slipped into a ditch and flipped over, with 6,000 litres of fertiliser leaking out and reaching the River Witham.

Patrick Cordingley, defending, said: “He is absolutely devastated by this matter. He is a country man. He loves wildlife and loves fish.

“He was devastated to find out his actions or his employee’s actions caused damage to the environment in any way.”

Mr Cordingley said Grindal deserves praise for preventing all 10,000 litres of fertiliser from leaking into the river. He said: “My client has been co-operative and has been the instrumental cause in 4,000 litres not entering the watercourse and causing more damage.”

Mrs Caulfield, prosecuting, said Grindal was advised by the Environment Agency to block the stream carrying water and fertiliser to the River Witham to minimise the impact of the spillage.

She said: “On April 10 the agency asked him to block the watercourse. This was ignored.”

However, Mr Cordingley said his client has no recollection of the request.

As well as the fine, Grindal must also pay £6,761 in costs.

The court heard how the incident caused the death of at least 741 brown trout and many more smaller fish.

Mrs Caulfield described the incident as a “category one fish killer”. She added: “It had a devastating effect.”

John Cuckson, chairman of the fly-fishing section at Grantham Angling Association, said the River Witham is still closed downriver. He added: “We are quite satisfied with the outcome of the court case. We just hope things will come back to normal.”