Farmers fined after illegally dredging river
A FARMING firm has been fined £500 after carrying out illegal water works at a burn in Scotland.
Arbroath Sheriff Court found D Geddes Farms Ltd guilty of carrying on engineering works, which involved dredging the Gighty Burn, during a period ‘critical’ to the spawning of juvenile fish, at the hearing yesterday (Wednesday).
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), which carried out the investigation, reported seeing ‘silty water’ in the burn on April 18, 2011 and a digger operated by a worker from D Geddes Contractors Ltd, dredging the area.
SEPA’s investigating officer John Shabashow said: “Watercourses are dynamic systems and any man made alterations can have unexpected and dramatic impacts, both upstream and downstream of the worked area.
“This could include destruction of habitat. If the work had been carried out in accordance with the General Binding Rules, any environmental impact would have been kept within acceptable limits and wildlife would have been protected.”
SEPA Dundee and Angus unit manager Stuart McGowan added the case could have been avoided if the operator had spoken to the Agency before starting work.
He said: “Dredging carried out in the wrong way can cause serious environmental harm, damage to fisheries and increased flooding downstream. However SEPA does not want to impede farmers or landowners who want to improve field drainage.”
SEPA does not require an application to authorise any of the following activities.
- The removal of in-stream or bank-side vegetation
- The removal of in-stream debris/rubbish
- The construction of new drains and ditches (where no watercourse previously existed)
- Construction and maintenance of road drains
- Dredging already straightened ditches less than 1metre wide, subject to good practice being followed