Fullers Farming fined for spreading ‘nauseating’ chicken manure

editorial image

A FARMING firm has been fined £10,000 for breaching an order restricting the spreading of ‘nauseating and gut-wrenching’ chicken manure.

City magistrates’ heard how the activities of Fullers Farming Ltd on Bottlehouse Farm in August 2011 had affected residents in Kingsmead, Oxley Park, Woodhill, Medbourne and Crownhill.

In a court case on Monday, the company – based at Borshaw Farm near Winslow – had pleded not guilty to the offence, but was fined £10,000 for breaching an Abatement Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

They were also ordered to pay Milton Keynes Council’s costs of £12,000.

Officers from the council’s environmental protection team had responded to complaints from residents and from users of the National Badminton Centre after the smell from the farm permeated north-east to the city centre.

It is the second time that Fullers Farming has been convicted of breaching the conditions of an Abatement Notice designed to control obnoxious odour, through the spreading of the chicken manure at Bottlehouse Farm, near Kingsmead.

The court heard there had been previous incidents in August 2009 and September 2010.

The council had served a Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice in 2009, prohibiting a repetition of the smell nuisance and requiring them to follow a number of conditions – primcipally not to spread extremely smelly material if the wind was blowing towards nearby houses in Milton Keynes.

In spite of this in September 2010, Fullers Farming breached the notice for the first time, resulting in a £10,000 fine and costs of £17,181.

In August 2011, less than three weeks before the company was due in court for the 2010 offence, it breached the notice for a second time.

It was for this second offence that they were found guilty on Monday.

In total for offences caused by spreading chicken manure on Bottlehouse Farm the company has had to pay nearly £50,000, plus their own court costs.

Environment team leader at the council, Dr Steve Moorhouse, said: “No one expects normal farming operations not to cause some smells, but this waste material from intensive chicken farming has a smell far beyond that of traditional farmyard manure and can only be spread if restrictive conditions designed to reduce the smell are closely followed.

“Prosecuting companies is the council’s last resort, when all our advice has been ignored and legal notices have been contravened.

“Unfortunately we have now been in court with this company on five separate occasions in connection with their spreading of chicken manure and the council has won every case.

“The courts clearly agreed with our view that breach of the conditions in our abatement notice is a serious offence and that the residents of Milton Keynes cannot be expected to tolerate their houses, gardens, clothes and furniture being pervaded by these horrendous smells caused by the irresponsible spreading of this highly offensive material without any regard being taken of the effects on other people.”