Cheese company fined thousands for third pollution offence

Alvis Bros Ltd (credit: Google)

A cheese company in North Somerset, Alvis Brothers Ltd, responsible for producing Lye Cross Farm cheeses, has been fined over £24,000 for its third instance of polluting the local area.

The company pleaded guilty to causing the discharge of harmful substances at Bristol Magistrates Court on November 10.

Situated at Lye Cross Farm in Redhill, Bristol, Alvis Brothers received a fine of £20,000 and was directed to pay costs of £2,520.20, along with a victim surcharge of £190.

The Environment Agency took legal action against Alvis Brothers after the company proposed an Environmental Undertaking sum, an alternative to a criminal conviction, which was rejected by the government body.

The court learned that Environment Agency officers visited a tributary of the Congresbury Yeo downstream of Lye Cross Farm in September 2020, following reports of white discoloration in the water.

Investigation revealed that a blocked pipe, intended to transport wash water from the farm’s cheese production facility to its onsite treatment works, had overflowed into the tributary due to obstruction by a plastic bag containing gloves and other plastic.

During an interview conducted under caution, Nick Green, the farm operations director, acknowledged the offence and expressed the company’s remorse.

He outlined the measures implemented after becoming aware of the pollution spill to minimise its impact on the watercourse.

However, in court, the Environment Agency contended that the blockage resulted from the disposal of everyday items and highlighted a lack of alert mechanisms for staff regarding the blocked or overflowing drainage system.

Additionally, despite the evident pollution, the Environment Agency said that it was not reported to the authorities.

The court also received information that the company had previously committed similar offences in 2013 and 2019.