A Moy Park chicken processing outlet in Lincolnshire has been fined a total of £15,000 after extracting too much water from a ground borehole.
Moy Park admitted breaching its water abstraction licence at its outlet near Sleaford, during a hearing before Lincoln magistrates last week (6 August).
The court heard that between March 2010 and April 2011, 17% more water was taken than was permitted by the licence. Much of this was taken just months before the area was declared to be in drought.
Claire Corfield, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said the company had already been refused permission to increase the annual amount of 700,000 cubic metres of water it used from boreholes.
Mrs Corfield said: “The company was aware of the limits of the licence.”
Mrs Corfield told the court the company could have taken the extra water from an Anglian Water mains supply, but said it would have cost more.
Moy Park said the breach of the licence was not deliberate.
The court heard the company had failed to reconcile monthly usage figures from the boreholes and compare these with the licence limits.
It was emphasised that the company had now taken steps to ensure no repeat occurrence.
Moy Park was fined £12,000, with £3,000 costs.
After the case a spokesman for the EA said: “Mains water was available to the Moy Park site and the company should have paid for any extra water it needed.
“Water is a precious resource which is already under pressure and we aim to ensure water companies, farmers and industry do not take too much from our rivers.
“We are leading a review of abstraction licences to make sure they aren’t causing environmental damage.”
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