Farmer pleads guilty to damaging River Lugg


A Herefordshire farmer has pleaded guilty to damaging the protected River Lugg after a high-profile investigation by authorities businesses into unauthorised river upkeep work.

John “Pudge” Price, a potato, cereal and beef farmer from Day House Farm, Kingsland, Leominster, appeared at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 18 May for a plea and case administration listening to.

See additionally: Farmer charged over River Lugg works vows to clear identify

Mr Price, 67, pleaded guilty to seven out of 10 expenses introduced in opposition to him by the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England (NE) associated to inflicting “unconsented operations and inflicting injury to a website of particular scientific curiosity”.

The three expenses that have been withdrawn have been lined by the seven guilty pleas to the opposite expenses, the court docket was advised.

Mr Price, who owns land both aspect of the protected river, admitted a number of offences carried out between 1 and 30 November 2020 which have been opposite to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Environmental Permitting Regulations.

River Lugg

© Malcolm John

Modifications

These included modification of river banks, use of automobiles to injury riparian habitats or disturb species of curiosity, with out prior consent. He additionally pleaded guilty to failing to adjust to a cease discover served to him on 2 December 2020, desilted and reprofiled the river banks and beds, and eliminated financial institution aspect vegetation.

The court docket heard that a number of the offences carry a vast advantageous and others a most penalty of two years in jail.

Bernard Thorogood, a barrister representing NE and the EA, stated the federal government businesses could be looking for to get better “substantial” authorized prices and would ask the court docket to put in place a restoration order for the a part of the river in query.

“Restoration is probably going not to be low-cost. The prices are substantial already and clearly will develop to a level, and a number of the offences carry solely monetary penalties,” stated Mr Thorogood.

“From the prosecution’s standpoint, we’re placing restoration first and second is the restoration of prices. This has been a considerable train that has concerned repeated checks by specialists on the situation of the river and all its inhabitants.”

Evidence

Adam Farrow, defending, stated he could be looking for medical proof, together with a psychiatric report of his shopper, which might be ready for the court docket.

District decide Ian Strongman reserved sentencing powers to the Justice of the Peace’s court docket and he indicated {that a} two-day listening to for sentencing could be crucial.

The case was adjourned till 24 October to the identical court docket to permit each events to put together related reviews. Sentencing is probably going to happen at a future date later within the yr, or early subsequent yr.

Mr Price’s authorized staff beforehand advised Farmers Weekly that he would plead not guilty to all expenses in opposition to him.

Following his guilty pleas to the seven expenses, Natural England and the Environment Agency issued a joint assertion.

A spokesperson stated: “Natural England and the Environment Agency take their roles in defending the surroundings severely and can use their enforcement powers to take strong motion in opposition to those that ignore the legislation.”

Local farmers journey to court docket to give their help

Farmers and buddies of John Price travelled to the court docket to present their solidarity.

They advised Farmers Weekly that the Environment Agency had not performed any river upkeep work for years alongside the River Lugg and that Mr Price had carried out the work as a result of he was fed up together with his land flooding.

William Lyke, a combined farmer in close by Kingsland, stated: “I feel work wants to be performed on these rivers on a regular basis.

“Landowners and farmers have an obligation of care to preserve the farms, and I feel everyone will get a bit pissed off. The Environment Agency and Natural England take the view that abandonment is conservation.”

Fellow farmer Derek Thomas added: “I feel the entire farming group feels John Price has been harshly handled. He’s been taking care of the watercourses all his life.”

Friend and neighbour David Barrington stated: “I feel the work was all performed for the proper motive. The individuals who reside shut to the river are very supportive of John Price. Before he did the work, it was overgrown.”

Mr Barrington stated he felt Mr Price ought to simply be reprimanded, and anticipated he would restore the positioning by tree planting


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