One of the largest egg producers in the UK has been ordered to pay £65,000, as well as costs of £9,500, for operating five sites across England without the required environmental permits.
Lincolnshire company, L J Fairburn, ran the sites between 1 February 2007 to 17 February 2012 without authorisation. Skegness Magistrates’ Court heard that at one time, Back Lane Poultry Unit at Bilsby had more than four times the number of birds it should have, numbering 186,810.
The court was told that any unit with more than 40,000 places for poultry needs to be permitted. Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, explained that a poultry permit is granted subject to a number of conditions to protect the environment and local communities from the effects of ammonia and methane emissions, particulates that can affect human health and slurries, wash waters, fuels and chemicals with the potential to pollute.
She said that L J Fairburn failed to apply for permits in 2010 even when the company found out that they were required. Mrs McDonald said the company had also avoided annual subsistence fees of over £47,000.
The court also heard that one of the sites, Batchelor Farm, was near to three sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) and there was evidence of manure being stored without proper precautions.
Nigel Burn for the company said that they were embarrassed by the failure to have permits. The farms are now compliant with permitting rules.
After the hearing, Environment Agency officer Rebecca Tremain said, 'We regulate intensive agricultural operations in order to protect human health and the environment. Operating without permits means that these risks were not assessed or regulated.'