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30 May 2013, 17:55
Cambridge University has been fined £28,000 for polluting a local waterway.
The University was prosecuted by The Environment Agency for twice allowing ''poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter into tributaries of the River Great Ouse at Park Farm, Madingley" last year.
At Cambridge Magistrates' Court today (Thursday) the university admitted the charges.
The 800 year-old institution was fined £28,000 by magistrates, and ordered to pay £7,300 costs.
The court was shown pictures of the amount of polluting slurry which had come out of the fields at Park Farm, and leaked into the River Great Ouse.
The Environment Agency said it had a significant effect on water quality, and broke government guidelines.
The university has apologised, and said it was due to a genuine misjudgement by experienced farm managers.
The university claimed the pollution claimed only minimal impact to the environment, but admitted it had not taken into account how last year's bad weather would have had such an impact.
The Environment Agency said the university failed to properly map the drainage in the fields, and so couldn't know how to fully stop the problem.
Following a report of pollution, an Environment Agency officer traced the pollution on 10 May 2012 upstream to a field where slurry had recently been spread.
Investigations revealed that slurry had entered the tributary via an unknown drainage pipe.
After a second report of pollution, an Environment Agency officer traced the pollution on 10 June 2012 upstream to another field where slurry had again recently been spread.
The next day, following heavy overnight rain, the field was completely waterlogged.
Under similar circumstances to the first incident, unknown drainage pipes were found to be discharging slurry into field ditches connected to tributaries of the River Great Ouse.
Claire Corfield, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said: "This was not an isolated lapse, following the first incident the defendant failed to take appropriate measures such as tankering to prevent a second pollution incident.
The causes of both incidents were the same."
In a statement, Cambridge University said: "The University deeply regrets the two incidents of pollution caused by slurry from fields during exceptionally wet weather.
There has been a full investigation into the circumstances and measures have been put in place to ensure that this should not happen again."