Farmer fined for dumping sludge at North Park, Lonmay, Fraserburgh

A SCOTTISH farmer has been fined £2,500 for illegally dumping sewage sludge containing sanitary products and other waste in a field used for growing animal feed.

Officers from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) discovered untreated slurry spread across Walter Watson’s farm at North Park, Lonmay, Fraserburgh last year.

The field is also near a tributary of the Savoch Burn which runs into Loch Strathbeg, a national nature reserve and designated site of special scientific interest.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Today/Yesterday (Tuesday) Watson, who failed to clear up the waste despite being given the opportunity to by SEPA, pled guilty at Peterhead Sheriff Court to disposing of unscreened sewage tank sludge without a waste management licence.

The farmer is also director of A1 Clear Drainage & Plumbing Solutions Ltd, a firm which is licensed to treat and screen septic tank sludge.

However slurry can only be spread on agricultural fields in certain circumstances if it has been screened.

Disposing unscreened tank sludge is forbidden due to the potential harm to the environment.

Caroline Simmers, SEPA’s investigating officer, said: “Mr Watson made no attempt to screen the considerable quantity of sewage-related litter from the septic tank sludge before spreading it on agricultural land. This type of activity is completely unacceptable and undermines the commitment of similar businesses which operate in an environmentally responsible way......Sewage litter waste can be a significant hazard to wildlife, livestock and human health. Mr Watson failed to take these risks into consideration and his prosecution should serve as a strong reminder that practices which do not meet environmental legislation will be punished accordingly.”

Craig Harris, head of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Wildlife and Environmental Unit added: “This conduct showed an utter disregard for the environment. Sanitary products, plastics and rag materials were spread across a field which is used to grown animal feed and which is adjacent to water which runs into a national nature reserve. Such conduct is a clear breach of the criminal law and is repugnant to all law abiding farmers.”