Damage to water vole habitat costs farmer over £450,000
Date of alert:
Wednesday, 27 April 2022
A mixed farming business has been ordered to pay £66,000 for damaging wildlife habitats on a Norfolk river despite already paying £400,000 to rectify the damage.
Paul Rackham Ltd of Manor Farm, Bridgham, dredged and reprofiled the banks of the Little Ouse River at its Lodge Farm Estate, Gasthorpe, in 2018.
The work was carried out without a permit and disrupted water vole burrows along a 1.5-mile stretch of the river. Vegetation from the river and the bank was also removed.
The damage caused in October and December 2018 was discovered in January 2019 by an Environment Agency official.
Officers visited the site again in February 2019 and found that vegetation and trees had been removed from the site.
Company director Paul Rackham senior ceased the work as soon as he was made aware it needed a permit. But water vole habitats and invertebrate populations on the Norfolk Flood Plain had been seriously damaged and fell dramatically.
At Norfolk Crown Court on 30 March the company pleaded guilty to operating a regulated facility, contrary to Regulation 12(1) and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.