A Hillingdon company has been fined after a stream which they polluted caused a pony to be stuck up to its belly in thick mud.
After soil at St Leonards Farm, which is operated by Arbormaster (UK) Ltd, was washed in 2016, the dirty water which escaped polluted a stream called Mad Bess Brook and travelled into fields between Harefield and Ruislip.
The pony which was stuck in the sludge, eventually broke free but an investigation from the Environment Agency ended in Arbormaster receiving a £3,500 fine.
Investigations into the company started in 2016 after members of the public were concerned after River Pinn, which is some distance away from the Arbormaster plant, became cloudy.
Officers were unable to prove the muddy water got into the Pinn, but they traced the pollution back to Mad Bess Brook and St Leonards Farm.
Investigators found a large quantity of murky water cascading down the side of a pile of waste soil.
The discoloured liquid was discovered shortly after Arbormaster installed a machine at St Leonards Farm to clean waste soil used in landscaping. The Environment Agency ordered the company to stop the process as a result of the pollution.
District Judge Deborah Wright, sitting at Ealing Magistrates’ Court on April 26, 2019, called the company’s actions “reckless”. The pollution adversely affected the stream’s invertebrate population meant to help sustain wildlife numbers.
James Burton, a senior environment officer for the Environment Agency in London, said: “Pumping large amounts of water into a waste pile without any way of capturing the liquid was inevitably going to cause a problem.
“Arbormaster knew the water was escaping from the site, yet failed to stop the soil-washing. I hope the £3,500 fine sends out a powerful message to businesses that protecting the environment is not an optional extra. It’s a must.”
Arbormaster pleaded guilty to the charges and were ordered to pay the £3,500 fine and costs of £5,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.