A dairy and turkey farmer has been ordered to pay £2,120 after slurry entered a brook near Swindon, the Environment Agency has said.

68-year-old Andrew Freeston of Smith’s Farm, Bushton, near Swindon, pleaded guilty when he appeared before Swindon Magistrates on Tuesday (September 26).

He was charged with causing pollution to enter the Cowage Brook between November 2020 and January 2021.

Freeston was ordered to pay a fine of £1,018, a £102 surcharge, and £1,000 in costs.

Senior environment officer, Jo Masters, said: “Mr Freeston showed a very poor attitude to our concerns over slurry entering a watercourse and repeatedly failed to address the problem.

“When pollution is identified, we expect polluters to take reports seriously, to both stop, and to remediate the issue.

“We strive to work with farmers to prevent pollution through advice and guidance, but in this case, he chose not to engage with officers which prolonged the effects of the pollution and resulted in enforcement action being taken by the Environment Agency.”


The court heard that in November 2020, following a report of pollution entering the Cowage Brook, an officer from the Environment Agency attended Smith’s Farm. 

The source of pollution was found to be a pipe discharging slurry to the watercourse.

The discharge had caused elevated ammonia in the watercourse, reduced biochemical oxygen demand, and extensive sewage fungus growth, the Environment Agency said.

Following the initial visit, Freeston, a Wiltshire council tenant farmer at Smith’s Farm for 43 years, cleaned out the ditch but did not take any action to find or stop the source of the pollution.

Officers returned to the site in December 2020 and found the watercourse was pollution was occurring again.

Despite officers informing Freeston of the serious pollution, he refused to engage with officers on site to look at the issue or take any action to remediate it, the Environment Agency said.

During a third visit in January 2021, Freeston had finally taken action and traced the source of the pollution to a yard drain which allowed slurry to discharge directly to the watercourse.

The following week a bund was constructed to protect the clean water drain and prevent further pollution.

The magistrates said that “any discharge from a farm is a serious matter”, according to the Environment Agency.