The environmental performance of Dairy Crest Limited has been unacceptable for too long and needs to significantly improve, says the Environment Agency.
Dairy Crest Limited, owned by Saputo Dairy UK, and its management of the Davidstow Creamery near Camelford, north Cornwall, has been falling way short of the standards expected by the Environment Agency when it comes to the company’s management of liquid waste, odour and environmental reporting, Truro Crown Court heard.
Ever since the site changed production to focus on whey processing, particularly to produce powder used in baby milk and other products, the effluent being discharged into the River Inny has been more challenging to treat. This has resulted in unacceptable pollution of the local river, which is a tributary of the River Tamar, causing significant harm to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Another issue has been foul odours which have often affected the lives of local residents.
Dairy Crest, which produces brands such as Cathedral City at its Davidstow plant, previously pleaded guilty to 21 of 27 charges brought by the Environment Agency. For committing this catalogue of offences, the firm was fined £1.52 million at the crown court on 23 June 2022. It had already agreed to pay costs of £272,747…
The offences included:
Releasing a harmful biocide, used to clean the wastewater tanks and pipework, into the river and killing thousands of fish over a 2 kilometre stretch on 16 August 2016.
Coating the River Inny with a noxious, black sludge for 5 kilometres in 2018, through a release of a mass of suspended solids in July and August 2018.
Consistently exceeding limits on substances like phosphorous and suspended solids entering the River Inny, from 2016 up to 2021.
Numerous leaks of part-treated effluent into nearby watercourses and onto the land.
Foul odours repeatedly affecting residents over many years.
Failing to tell the Environment Agency within 24 hours of when things had gone significantly wrong on site, on 7 separate occasions.
Do you suppose that as a result of the court case the lives of the long suffering residents of Davidstow will no longer be blighted by “foul odours” and “unacceptable pollution of the local river“, not to mention the light and noise pollution as well?
Hospital admissions due to Covid-19 here in Cornwall have been reducing, but it looks as though that is about to change. Compare admissions into Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust hospitals over the last 3 months:
with those across South West England as a whole:
Admissions across the West Country are now at their highest level for over 12 months, and the (delayed) numbers in Cornwall have now started to rise as well. As indeed have the nationwide figures:
[Edit – March 21st]
The comments below show the continuing increase in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations over the last couple of weeks. After a break over the weekend today’s data has just been released. Here are the nationwide numbers:
Here are the rolling weekly case numbers per 100,000 population across Cornwall as a whole:
As you can see, cases in Cornwall 5 days ago are currently running 50% higher than the current nationwide average. Zooming in further several MSOA’s have case rates over 1,600, and the rates in both Saltash and Par are over 2,000:
Further west the case rate in Helston is now over 1,800 :
Yesterday afternoon I packed my bodyboarding gear into the back of Lisa the LEAF and headed for Crackington Haven. I decided not to don my 5/4/3 winter wetsuit and head out into the pounding surf. However my trip was certainly not wasted:
The Tavy Basin comprises an upper Devonian and Carboniferous sequence of mudstones and sandstones, together with chert. The Kate Brook Slate Formation is of Famennian age and consists of greenish-grey and black slates representing an outer shelf facies. The Crackington Formation which is a Namurian age turbidite deposit consisting of dark grey shales with sandstone layers.
I spoke to Graham Skinner at the Davidstow Flying Club earlier this evening, in the middle of a hailstorm. Graham has promised to send me much more detailed information on this incident, but for now here is my initial investigation into the recent arson attack on one of the flying club’s hangars and the aircraft inside it:
’Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”
[Edit – February 26th]
Graham has sent me some of the Flying Club’s photographs of the damage caused by the arson attack. Here’s what used to be a secure shelter for some microlights:
and here are all that’s left of two of the club’s microlight aircraft:
As Graham put it in his email to me:
The fires made holes in the hangar roof and then the recent extremely high winds destroyed that hangar. The club over time had spent several thousands of pounds on it. Now in ruins.
Very sad times for Davidstow Flying Club, but we are such a strong enthusiastic group this will NOT deter us from pursuing our love of aviation.
I have also been informed that subsequently a twin axle Ifor Williams trailer was stolen from the damaged hangar. Here’s a picture of it:
It seems that it has been seen in the Camelford area since the theft. Whilst such trailers are not uncommon around here this one is obviously not in factory fresh condition, and hence has some identifying characteristics.
I discovered at around 9:55 this morning that Julie Skentelbery was going to be interviewing Scott Mann, our local Conservative MP here in North Cornwall, on her BBC Radio Cornwall programme a few minutes later.
More in hope than expectation I dialled the number that had just been announced and mentioned that I had already asked Scott some questions about the recent power cuts via email, but had yet to receive an answer.
Advance to around 19 minutes 45 seconds into the recording of Julie’s show on BBC Sounds to discover what happened thereafter:
It is now 7 PM on the evening of Monday February 21st. Here is Western Power Distribution’s current live power cut map for North Cornwall:
You can no doubt see the blue blob over the Davidstow substation indicating that there are currently power cuts on 4 different feeders? Some date back to the arrival of Storm Eunice on Friday morning. That is 3 and a half days ago.
Others are more recent, occurring as Storm Franklin passed overhead yesterday afternoon and overnight. One at least has just had its “estimated time of restoration” put back until 23:30 tomorrow night:
[Edit – 10:00 on February 22nd]
The last local power cut caused by Storm Eunice on Friday morning was finally fixed at 5:33 this morning:
That adds up to four nights without electric power for the last 6 properties to be restored. There are currently still two other faults outstanding at the Davidstow substation, but they are more recent:
Here’s how the current situation looks across the rest of Cornwall and Devon:
The Met Office have just issued a rare red wind warning for the North Cornwall coast when Storm Eunice arrives tomorrow morning:
. The storm looks fairly innocuous on the current Met Office synoptic charts:
However Storm Eunice is a “bomb cyclone“, so hurricane force winds are certainly possible in the Davidstow area. The forecast for tomorrow may still change, but the Met Office currently put it this way:
Extremely strong west to southwesterly winds will develop over southwest England and south Wales early on Friday. Widespread inland gusts of 70-80 mph are likely and up to around 90 mph near some coasts, with dangerous conditions on beaches and seafronts. Winds are expected to ease from the west during the late morning.
What to expect
Flying debris resulting in danger to life
Damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down
Uprooted trees are likely
Roads, bridges and railway lines closed, with delays and cancellations to bus, train, ferry services and flights
Power cuts affecting other services, such as mobile phone coverage
Large waves and beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and homes, including flooding of some coastal properties
This Flood Alert remains in force. Flooding is possible this afternoon and overnight into Thursday 30th December. Last night’s rain has caused river levels to rise and we expect these to remain high throughout the rest of today and into tomorrow morning. This may result in flooding to low lying land and roads close to rivers this afternoon and overnight into Thursday morning 30th December. However, flooding to properties is not currently expected. Take care near the areas of concern and monitor your local weather conditions. We are monitoring river levels and have staff in the area checking for and clearing blockages. This message will be updated on Thursday morning or earlier if the situation changes.
For some strange reason the BBC never sent us a press release beforehand, but it has recently come to our attention that the Top Gear team have been filming in Davidstow Woods and on Davidstow Airfield. The first intimation of this surreptitious activity came via Twitter:
More recently the three Top Gear presenters have been seen debating amongst other things whether a cream tea should be constructed jam first. Or not! There is of course no debate whatsoever:
To add insult to injury Paddy McGuinness then had the temerity to tweet this: