A Norfolk farming firm has been ordered to pay out £66,000 after it was discovered to have harmed the habitat of water voles, a protected species.
Paul Rackham Ltd, based mostly at Manor Farm, Bridgham pleaded responsible to finishing up works on the River Little Ouse at Lodge Farm Property, Gasthorpe close to Diss. The work was carried out with out a allow.
A remediation scheme valued at £400,000 has been carried out by the corporate, which is able to restore the hurt prompted and to reconnect the River Little Ouse to the floodplain.
Regardless of this, the corporate was sentenced at Norwich Crown Courtroom on 30 March, the place it was fined £17,000. It’s going to additionally pay £49,000 in direction of prosecution prices.
A 2.4km stretch of river was dredged and deepened with work additionally carried out to lift and re-profile the riverbank. Vegetation from the river and the financial institution was additionally eliminated.
The work was carried out between October and December 2018, however was solely found in January 2019.
A member of Surroundings Company employees went to take a pattern to watch drought within the space, the place he observed that the channel was deeper than standard and needed to abandon his sampling due to this.
Officers visited the positioning once more in February 2019 and located that vegetation and bushes and been faraway from the positioning.
They later spoke with firm director Paul Rackham senior on the telephone, telling him to cease the work because it wanted a allow. No additional work was carried out.
Additional visits to the positioning discovered that the work had, had a major adversarial impression on the habitats of water voles and invertebrates.
Surveys carried out alongside the river confirmed proof of water voles within the space. Officers concluded the unpermitted work had broken their burrows and eliminated their meals supply and shelter, vegetation from the river and banks.
The River Little Ouse was discovered to have slowed in move resulting in completely different vegetation and invertebrates. Numbers of freshwater shrimp within the space dropped to their lowest recorded numbers prior to now 5 years.
Sentencing the corporate, Decide Bacon QC discovered the extent of hurt prompted was vital. She discovered that Paul Rackham Ltd had been reckless in finishing up the work with out first acquiring a allow.
The corporate stated it was unaware it wanted a allow nevertheless it had obtained flood defence consent from the Surroundings Company prior to now.
It had additionally beforehand been suggested to contact the company upfront of doing any dredging.
Norfolk flood threat officer, Naomi Daniel stated: “Companies ought to guarantee they’ve the right permits earlier than they perform work. Anybody that wants help with this could contact us for additional recommendation.
“Guaranteeing you might have the right permits ensures no environmental injury is prompted. On this case, the actions of the corporate prompted severe injury to the native ecosystem and endangered water voles which is able to take time to revive.”