Below you’ll find a press release from Natural Resources Wales regarding an enforcement action taken against a polluter. The West Wales Rivers Trust have issued this accompanying statement:

“Whilst we are able to utilise £15,000 for river restoration works in the area affected by the pollution incident, as a Trust we feel that the current system of determining fines is woefully inadequate. We are keen that fines should be prohibitive and the threat of them be significant enough to act as a deterrent against poor practices,  in order that pollutions are prevented and to guard against the cost of them being simply absorbed as a business expense. We are seeking counsel with Natural Resources Wales to discuss this particular enforcement undertaking so that we have a better understanding of how their decision on the size of the fine was reached.”

 

 

Natural Resources Wales Press Release – 22nd August 2019 (in both English and Welsh)

River benefits after polluter pays

A major river pollution incident in Mid Wales has cost a company £40,000.

Pencefn Feeds Ltd, near Tregaron has paid the sum after a detailed investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) into the incident in December 2016.

Around18,000 fish are thought to have been killed on a five-mile stretch of the Teifi when approximately 44,000 gallons of pollutant leaked from an anaerobic digestion plant.

The West Wales Rivers Trust will receive £15,000 to restore fish habitat in the area.

And a further £5,000 will go to the Countryside Alliance Foundation to fund education activities about fish and the local environment for children in the Tregaron area.

The payments are consistent with a potential fine and have been made as an “enforcement undertaking”. This means that the money directly benefits the local environment.

The final £20,000 is being paid to recover all investigation and legal costs relating to the case.

Ann Weedy, Mid Wales operations manager for Natural Resources Wales, said:

“This has been a very complex and time-consuming investigation and we are pleased to see the financial penalty being used directly to repair some of the damage caused by this incident.

“This will make the Teifi a better place for fish and other wildlife by fencing river banks and developing riverside vegetation.

“We hope these payments serve as a reminder to businesses that we will take enforcement action if they pollute Wales’ environment and don’t operate responsibly.”

As well as investigating the incident and overseeing the clean-up operation, NRW also investigated the roles of all companies involved in the incident.

However, the sub-contractor mainly responsible for the incident, Hallmark Power Ltd, went into liquidation so no prosecution could be taken against them. And the main contractor, ComBigaS UK, also no longer exists, so no action could be taken against them either.

ComBigaS Denmark had links to the project but has no legal basis in the UK and is therefore not covered by UK law.

Site owner, Pencefn Feeds Ltd, had raised concerns with the companies about the quality of work, but this had not been acted upon. This would have provided significant mitigation if the matter had gone to court, so NRW concluded that accepting an enforcement undertaking was the best option in this case.

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Director of Afonydd Cymru, the umbrella body that represents Wales’ six Rivers Trusts commented: “This was a tragic case that was bad for the river Teifi and its fisheries.

“Nonetheless, we commend the use of an Enforcement Undertaking to resolve the regulatory aspect of the case as some funding will now be put towards restoration within the catchment itself.

“The resolution of longer term damage remains a separate issue.”

Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, said: “Fishing for Schools is always grateful to receive funding to help us reach out to more young people who benefit from our unique approach to education through angling.

“Funding coming from a pollution incident and resultant settlement whilst sad, will highlight the ever-present need to align conservation and the environment with our school work.

“Tregaron has always been a bedrock of angling within the Welsh community and heritage. We fully intend to enhance and extend that rich legacy by putting this award to good use.”

NRW has been monitoring the Teifi since the incident and confirms there has been minimal effect on invertebrates. Salmon fry have been found in the affected area, so it is likely that at least some eggs did survive.

However, juvenile and adult salmon were killed. Large numbers of brown trout were also killed, and this species will take some time to recover.

Ann Weedy continued: “The Teifi is one of the most iconic and important recreational and net fisheries in Wales and an internationally important Special Area of Conservation for endangered fish such as lampreys, salmon and bullhead.

“We all need to work together to do all we can to restore the river and reduce the number of pollution incidents damaging our precious environment in Wales.”

NRW has carried out more than 100 pollution prevention visits to farms in Ceredigion and the Teifi catchment in the past year and these have helped reduce the risk of pollution from farm slurry.

It has also inspected the other three anaerobic digestion plants in Ceredigion to ensure that their pollution prevention measures are suitable.

Pencefn Feeds Ltd has now applied for an environmental permit so they can continue to operate (see additional information for more details).

 

Background

In December 2016, Pencefn Feeds Ltd had been testing its new anaerobic digestion plant before it started generating power.

Anaerobic digestion is a natural process where organic matter is broken down by bacteria to produce gas for renewable energy.

A pipe failed and digestate (the substance produced by anaerobic digestion) entered a ditch which leads into the river Teifi.

Advised by NRW officers, the landowner tried to stop the pollution entering the river by creating bunds and diverting the digestate onto fields.

But there was major damage to the river, with an estimated loss of approximately 18,000 fish over five miles.

The investigation

This was a complex case with several construction companies and contractors involved. These were ComBigaS UK, Hallmark Power Ltd, and ComBigaS Denmark.

As well as investigating the incident at the site and making sure a thorough clean up took place, NRW also investigated each company and the roles they had in the incident.

However, Hallmark Power Ltd and ComBigaS UK no longer exist so no prosecution can be taken against them.

ComBigaS Denmark weren’t directly involved but have links to the project. The company is based outside the UK and not covered by UK law.

Accepting an enforcement undertaking means that the money goes directly to the local environment. Fines levied through any court proceedings would go direct to the Treasury.

Permit Application

Under current regulations AD plants that use certain agricultural materials, such as slurry, manure, animal bedding and plant tissue do not need an environmental permit and can operate under an exemption.

At the time of the incident, Pencefn Feeds Ltd was operating under an exemption from permitting.

It has now applied for an environmental permit which would allow it to accept farm and dairy waste. It has also applied for a permit to spread the waste from the anaerobic digestion plant on land.

NRW is currently reviewing the applications which means specific measures must be put in place to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

It will not issue a permit if Pencefn Feeds Ltd does not demonstrate that it will meet the required standards.

If a permit is granted NRW will be able to regulate the facility and have powers to stop the plant operating if it poses an unacceptable risk to people or the environment.

 

Afon yn elwa wedi i lygrwr dalu

Mae digwyddiad mawr o lygredd mewn afon yng Nghanolbarth Cymru wedi costio £40,000 i un cwmni.

Mae Pencefn Feeds Ltd, ger Tregaron, wedi talu’r swm wedi ymchwiliad manwl gan Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru (CNC) i’r digwyddiad ym mis Rhagfyr 2016.

Credir bod tua 18,000 o bysgod wedi cael eu lladd ar ddarn pum milltir o afon Teifi pan ollyngodd oddeutu 44,000 galwyn o lygrydd o waith treulio anaerobig.

Bydd £15,000 yn mynd i Ymddiriedolaeth Afonydd Gorllewin Cymru i adfer cynefinoedd pysgod yn yr ardal.

A bydd £5,000 arall yn mynd i Sefydliad y Gynghrair Cefn Gwlad i ariannu gweithgareddau addysg am bysgod a’r amgylchedd lleol i blant yn ardal Tregaron.

Mae’r taliad yn gyson a dirwy posibl ac mae wedi’i wneud fel “ymgymeriad gorfodi.” Golyga hyn y bydd yr arian yn elwa’r amgylchedd lleol yn uniongyrchol.

Mae’r £20,000 terfynol yn talu’r holl gostau ymchwilio a chyfreithiol sy’n ymwneud â’r achos.

Dywedodd Ann Weedy, rheolwr gweithrediadau Canolbarth Cymru, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru:

“Mae hwn wedi bod yn ymchwiliad cymhleth a llafurus iawn ac rydym yn falch o weld y gosb ariannol yn cael ei defnyddio’n uniongyrchol i atgyweirio peth o’r difrod a achoswyd gan y digwyddiad hwn.

“Bydd hyn yn gwneud afon Teifi yn lle gwell i bysgod a bywyd gwyllt trwy ffensio glannau afonydd a datblygu llystyfiant ar lan yr afon.

“Rydyn ni’n gobeithio bydd y taliadau hyn yn atgoffa busnesau y byddwn ni’n cymryd camau gorfodi os ydyn nhw’n llygru ein hamgylchedd ac os nad ydyn nhw’n gweithredu’n gyfrifol.”

Yn ogystal ag ymchwilio i’r digwyddiad a goruchwylio’r gwaith glanhau, fe wnaeth CNC ymchwilio i rolau pob cwmni yn y digwyddiad.

Fodd bynnag, roedd yr is-gontractwr oedd yn bennaf gyfrifol am y digwyddiad, Hallmark Power Ltd, wedi mynd yn fethdalwr felly ni ellid dwyn erlyniad yn ei herbyn. Ac roedd y prif gontractwr, ComBigaS UK, hefyd wedi peidio a bod, ac ni ellid cymryd erlyniad yn ei herbyn hwythau.

Roedd gan ComBigaS Denmarc gysylltiad â’r prosiect ond nid oedd ganddo unrhyw sail cyfreithiol yn y DU ac felly nid yw’n dod o dan gyfraith y DU.

Fe wnaeth perchennog y safle, Pencefn Feeds Ltd, godi pryderon gyda’r cwmnïau ynglŷn ag ansawdd eu gwaith, ond ni weithredwyd ar y consyrn yna. Fe fyddai hyn wedi darparu lliniaru sylweddol pe bai’r mater wedi mynd i’r llys a daeth CNC i’r casgliad mai derbyn ymgymeriad gorfodi oedd yr opsiwn gorau yn yr achos yma.

Dywedodd Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Cyfarwyddwr Afonydd Cymru, y corff ymbarél sy’n cynrychioli chwe Ymddiriedolaeth Afonydd Cymru: “Roedd hwn yn achos trasig a oedd yn ddrwg i afon Teifi a’i physgodfeydd.

“Serch hynny, rydym yn cymeradwyo defnyddio Ymgymeriad Gorfodi i ddatrys agwedd reoleiddio yr achos gan y bydd rhywfaint o arian nawr yn cael ei roi tuag at waith adfer yn y dalgylch.

“Mae datrys difrod tymor hwy yn parhau i fod yn fater ar wahân.”

Dywedodd Rachel Evans, Cyfarwyddwr Cymru i’r Gynghrair Cefn Gwlad: “Mae Pysgota i Ysgolion bob amser yn ddiolchgar o dderbyn cyllid i’n helpu i estyn allan at fwy o bobl ifanc sy’n elwa o’n dull unigryw o addysgu trwy bysgota.

“Bydd cyllid sy’n dod o ddigwyddiad llygredd, er mor drist, yn tynnu sylw at yr angen bythol i sicrhau bod cadwraeth a’r amgylchedd yn flaenllaw yn ein gwaith gydag ysgolion.

“Mae pysgota wedi bod yn rhan bwysig o gymuned a threftadaeth Tregaron bob amser. Rydym yn gweithio i wella ac ymestyn yr etifeddiaeth gyfoethog honno trwy wneud defnydd da o’r wobr hon.”

Mae CNC wedi bod yn monitro afon Teifi ers y digwyddiad ac yn cadarnhau na fu fawr o effaith ar infertebratau. Mae eogiaid bach wedi cael eu canfod yn yr ardal yr effeithiwyd arni, felly mae’n debygol bod o leiaf rhai wyau wedi goroesi.

Fodd bynnag, lladdwyd eogiaid ifanc ac eogiaid aeddfed. Lladdwyd nifer fawr o frithyll brown hefyd, a bydd y rhywogaeth hon yn cymryd peth amser i wella.

Aeth Ann yn ei blaen:

“Mae afon Teifi yn un o’r pysgodfeydd hamdden a net mwyaf eiconig a phwysig yng Nghymru ac yn Ardal Cadwraeth Arbennig o bwysigrwydd rhyngwladol ar gyfer pysgod sydd mewn perygl, fel llysywen bendoll, eog a phenlletwad.

“Mae angen i ni i gyd weithio gyda’n gilydd i wneud popeth o fewn ein gallu i adfer yr afon a lleihau’r nifer neu’r digwyddiadau llygredd sy’n niweidio ein hamgylchedd gwerthfawr yng Nghymru.”

Mae CNC wedi cynnal mwy na 100 o ymweliadau atal llygredd â ffermydd yng Ngheredigion a dalgylch Teifi yn ystod y flwyddyn ddiwethaf ac mae’r rhain wedi helpu i leihau’r risg o lygredd o slyri fferm.

Mae hefyd wedi archwilio’r 3 safle treulio anaerobig arall yng Ngheredigion i sicrhau bod eu mesurau atal llygredd yn addas.

Mae Pencefn Feeds Ltd bellach wedi gwneud cais am hawlen amgylcheddol fel eu bod yn gallu parhau i weithredu. (gweler gwybodaeth ychwanegol am ragor o fanylion).

 

Cefndir

Ym mis Rhagfyr 2016, roedd Pencefn Feeds Ltd wedi bod yn profi eu cyfleuster treulio anaerobig newydd cyn iddo ddechrau cynhyrchu pŵer.

Mae treulio anaerobig yn broses naturiol lle mae deunydd organig yn cael ei ddadelfennu gan facteria i gynhyrchu nwy ar gyfer ynni adnewyddadwy.

Methodd pibell a llifodd y sylwedd a gynhyrchir trwy dreuliad anaerobig i mewn i ffos sy’n arwain i mewn i afon Teifi.

Wedi’i gynghori gan swyddogion CNC, ceisiodd y tirfeddiannwr atal y llygredd rhag mynd i mewn i’r afon trwy greu byndiau a dargyfeirio’r crynhoad i gaeau.

Ond bu difrod mawr i’r afon, gan golli oddeutu 18,000 o bysgod o bosibl dros 5 milltir.

Yr ymchwiliad

Roedd hwn yn achos cymhleth gyda sawl cwmni adeiladu a chontractwr yn cymryd rhan. Ymhlith y rhain mae ComBigaS UK, Hallmark Power Ltd, a ComBigaS Denmarc.

Yn ogystal ag ymchwilio i’r digwyddiad ar y safle a sicrhau bod gwaith glanhau trylwyr yn digwydd, fe wnaeth CNC ymchwilio i bob cwmni a’r rolau oedd ganddyn nhw yn y digwyddiad.

Fodd bynnag, daeth Hallmark Power Ltd a ComBigaS UK i ben felly ni ellir ei herlyn drwy’r llysoedd.

Nid oedd ComBigaS Denmarc yn ymwneud yn uniongyrchol ond mae ganddo gysylltiadau â’r prosiect. Mae’r cwmni wedi’i leoli y tu allan i’r DU ac nid yw’n dod o dan gyfraith y DU.

Trwy ddefbyn ymarferiad gorfodi mae’r arian yn mynd yn uniongyrchol i’r Amgylchedd lleol. Byddai dirwy drwy’r llysoedd yn mynd yn uniongyrchol i’r Trysorlys.

Cais am Drwydded

O dan y rheoliadau cyfredol, nid oes angen caniatâd amgylcheddol ar safleoedd TA sy’n defnyddio rhai deunyddiau amaethyddol, fel slyri, tail, deunydd i’w roi o dan anifeiliaid a meinwe planhigion a gallant weithredu o dan eithriad.

Ar adeg y digwyddiad, roedd Pencefn Feeds Ltd yn gweithredu o dan eithriad i drwydded.

Mae bellach wedi gwneud cais am hawlen amgylcheddol a fyddai’n caniatáu iddynt dderbyn gwastraff fferm a llaeth. Mae hefyd wedi gwneud cais am hawlen i wasgaru’r gwastraff o’r gwaith treulio anaerobig ar dir.

Ar hyn o bryd mae CNC yn adolygu’r ceisiadau sy’n golygu bod yn rhaid rhoi mesurau penodol ar waith i atal digwyddiad tebyg rhag digwydd eto.

Ni fydd yn rhoi caniatâd os nad yw Pencefn Feeds Ltd yn dangos y bydd yn bodloni’r safonau gofynnol.

Os rhoddir caniatâd, bydd CNC yn gallu rheoleiddio’r safle a bydd ganddynt bwerau i atal y safle rhag gweithredu os yw’n peri risg annerbyniol i bobl neu’r amgylchedd.