Man receives £2,000 fine for taking water illegally

AN ISLE man has been fined £2,000 for taking water that he shouldn’t have done.

Christopher Drury of Beltoft Grange Farm last week pleaded guilty at Scunthorpe Magistrates’ Court to abstracting water from a watercourse near Amcotts without a licence.

The 50-year-old was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1944.83 in costs, along with a £15 victim surcharge.

The charge was brought under Section 24 of the Water Resources Act 1991. By law, if anyone wants to remove or abstract water from a surface source (e.g. river, stream or canal) or from an underground source and takes more than 20 cubic metres a day, they almost certainly need an abstraction licence.

In July 2010, Environment Agency Officers were alerted to the fact that water was being abstracted using a pump from a watercourse near Amcotts, causing a significant drop in water levels. The watercourse was a field drain used to irrigate a nearby potato field rented by Drury.

Mr Drury attended for interview and accepted that there was no licence in place, however, he stated that he had acted under the mistaken belief that there was a licence in place held by another farmer, Mr Barker. It was clarified that Mr Drury stopped abstracting when he noticed the water level reducing rapidly, before he had finished irrigating his crop.

In mitigation, the defence explained that Mr Drury had been shown a black and white photocopy of Mr Barker’s abstraction licence, which meant he was unable to see which watercourses could be used for abstraction.

Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer said: “Abstraction licences are there for a reason - they allow us to protect both water supplies and the environment. Unregulated abstraction could lead to water supply shortages, increases in river pollution by reducing dilution, damage to wildlife habitats and ultimately to the loss of rivers for all of us to use and enjoy.”