Plaistow farmer ‘devastated’ as land set aside for lambing is polluted

JPCT Crouchland farm pollution incident SUS-160318-114712001
JPCT Crouchland farm pollution incident SUS-160318-114712001
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A Plaistow farmer is ‘devastated’ at the effect a second pollution incident in less than a year has had on her land.

Back in June 2015 controversial energy plant Crouchland Farm, in Rickmans Lane, apologised for a digestate spill which affected Linda and Richard Whittemore’s land.

Incident at Crouchland Farm SUS-160318-114735001

Incident at Crouchland Farm SUS-160318-114735001

But four Environment Agency teams were deployed to deal with a ‘significant pollution incident’, which occured on Wednesday night (March 16), and gather evidence from a ‘small spill of effluent’ from one of Crouchland’s lagoons.

Mrs Whittemore explained that the affected land had been set aside for their 500 ewes who are just about to lamb and said: “To say I am furious is an understatement.”

She added: “This is devastating to our farming business. How many more incidents does there have to be before the Environment Agency taken action and put a stop to this unacceptable harm to our land and our rural environment?”

Leon Mekitarian, managing director of Crouchland Farms Ltd, said: “Yesterday evening we experienced a small spill of effluent from one of the agricultural lagoons we have on our farm.

JPCT Crouchland farm pollution incident SUS-160318-114723001

JPCT Crouchland farm pollution incident SUS-160318-114723001

“Firstly I would like to apologise for any upset this has caused our neighbours. They can be assured we worked as hard and as quickly as we could once we became aware of the issue.

“Within one hour we had put bungs and dams in place to halt the flow, minimising the impact on the local brook. I would like to thank our staff for their quick thinking and their hard work throughout the night to put this right.

“We are working closely with the Environment Agency who are satisfied with the steps we took to remedy the situation, and with whom we have agreed a plan of action to reduce the chance of this happening again.

“Whilst no modern working farm can expect to operate totaly incident free, we owe it to the farms we support, the people we employ and our non farming neighbours, to do what we can to stop this reoccurring.”

In the last few years residents have objected to the scale of operations at Crouchland Farm, which involves an anaerobic digestion plant breaking down organic material to produce biogas.

The company has three planning appeals pending, one against West Sussex County Council’s decision to refuse retrospective planning permission to upgrade the digester and other equipment back in March 2015, one against two enforcement notices issued by Chichester District Council, and the fourth is against WSCC’s decision to partially approve its bid for a certificate of lawful use for activities at the site.

Sara Burrell, chair of Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council, said: “Yet again our local community’s environment is suffering significant damage because of the activities of Crouchland Biogas. Yet again it is the local community that suffers.”

As a community she said they were calling on authorities, and the Environment Agency in particular, to take direct and firm action against Crouchland,

Clarissa Bushell, a local resident, said it was ‘unacceptable’ to see dead fish and be told by the EA that all invertebrate life appears to have been killed.

She said it was ‘heartbreaking to those of us who care about the environment in which we live and work’.

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