Cambridge-based biogas firm ordered to pay £42k for water pollution incident

A silage liquor, an ‘extremely harmful’ liquid that is formed when crops are in storage, allegedly leaked into the River Cam

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A company that turns crops into energy has been ordered to pay out a sum of £42,000 after an ‘extremely harmful’ liquid polluted River Cam.

Described as reckless by Cambridge Magistrate’s Court, biogas firm Pretoria Energy allowed a liquid that is formed when the crops are in storage, named silage liquor, to escape into the stream.

The pollution incident, which was allegedly seen for nearly half a mile, took place at Pretoria’s site off the A10 near Ely in 2018 when the liquid seeped through poorly-maintained drains into the water.

The company operates an anaerobic digestion plant at Chittering to process the crops that are used to produce energy.

Magistrates heard the company had the necessary drainage system, but cracks around drains and concrete paving meant the silage liquor leaked into drains and out into the unnamed stream.

An officer from the Environment Agency who investigated the site following the incident found the water coal black in colour.

Miriam Joy, Land and Water Officer for the Environment Agency, said: “Companies should take their environmental responsibilities seriously. Appropriate checks and methods need to be in place to ensure their activities don’t cause pollution or harm the environment.

“We hope the large fine handed out to Pretoria Energy acts as a deterrent to others.”

ELN has tried to contact Pretoria Energy for a response.

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