RAW sewage from a cafe, nursery and several shops was being dumped into an open ditch and contaminating a watercourse, a court has heard.

The boss of the garden and shopping centre Stydd Gardens, Stephen Fullalove, was ordered to pay over £9,000 for his offences when he appeared at Blackburn Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to three offences of causing a water discharge activity at the Ribchester site, and one charge of failing to comply with a works notice served by the Environment Agency.

Fullalove was taken to court by the agency after an investigation established that the sewage was being discharged to an overloaded treatment system, which was providing little or no wastewater treatment. The sewage was then being discharged without a permit to an open ditch at the rear of the site, causing water pollution.

And despite advice from Environment Agency officers and the serving of an anti-pollution works notice, the situation continued and on May 16 2018 the agency carried out works to prevent further discharges to the watercourse.

Fullalove was fined £3,550 and was ordered to pay costs of £6,000.

A spokesperson from the Environment Agency, who brought Fullalove to court, said: "This offending occurred over an extended period of time and without any interim measures being put in place to prevent the pollution while the permanent solution was sought.

"This case demonstrates how seriously the Environment Agency considers water pollution offences and that we will take action against individuals and businesses who cause such pollution."

Any environmental incidents should be reported to the agency on 0800 807060 while waste crime can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers online or on 0800 555111.