Davidstow Cathedral City cheese firm pollution fine
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'Black sludge' which coated a three-mile river stretch near the plant in 2018
One of the UK's biggest cheddar cheese suppliers has been fined more than £1.5m after admitting a host of pollution and odour charges.
The Dairy Crest Ltd plant at Davidstow, Cornwall, polluted the local area over a five-period up to 2021, killing fish and creating strong odours.
The firm, which produces Cathedral City, Clover and Country Life, said the issues had been rectified.
It was fined a total of £1.52m at Truro Crown Court on Thursday.
The judge said £272,746 costs had already been paid.
Odours 'gave vision problems'
The court was told there were "plant failures", leaks and overspills at the Canadian-owned company site.
Dairy Crest had previously admitted 21 of 27 charges, relating to pollution incidents and permit breaches, which were brought by the Environment Agency (EA).
Fish were killed in nearby rivers due to the pollution
The court heard the incidents led to odours so bad that they stopped local residents from sleeping, leaving them with headaches and vision problems.
Waste was also discharged several times into the River Immy, killing fish.
The river is used for breeding Atlantic salmon and is home to native wild brown trout and smaller species like bullheads and loaches.
The Davidstow plant is where the well-known Cathedral City cheese is manufactured
Prosecuting, Richard Banwell from the EA said the firm failed to notify the agency about incidents.
The firm has previously apologised to the EA, the court and to the public who had been affected and said the offences arose after commissioning new processes, unique in the UK.
It said it had undertaken a significant amount of work to rectify the "historic issues to which the prosecution relates".
The company employs 195 workers and operates all year round, 24 hours a day, buying 1.3 million litres of milk from around 370 local farmers daily.
Sentencing, Judge Simon Carr said there were problems from the start but Dairy Crest continued to operate.
He also said there were senior and middle management failures and a culture of bullying and intimidation at the firm's waste water facility.
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