A CONTRACTOR and a farmer have each been fined £11,500 after slurry contaminated a tributary of the River Hodder.

An investigation was launched by the Environment Agency after a pollution incident occurred at Withgill Farm in Great Mitton in April 2017.

Environment officials found, after a report from a member of the public, that a large volume of slurry had accumulated in the tributary.

And this had left the Hodder, a watercourse known for its salmon fishing, heavily discoloured downstream, Blackburn magistrates were told.

The agency's enquiries found that the slurry had come from a field drain, close to where a firm called Wilsons Farming had been working at the dairy farm.

The Hodder was not only discoloured but smelled of slurry for several kilometres and this continued beyond its confluence with the River Ribble. Anglers later said the Ribble at Dinckley, more than seven-and-a-half kilometres away, was left unfishable.

An earth dam had been constructed by contractors across the stream, to prevent further pollution, and workers were seen tankering away excess slurry.

Withgill Farm Ltd and Wilson Contractors, trading as Wilson Farming, of Samlesbury, both pleaded guilty to offences relating to the pollution incident.

Magistrates fined each of the companies and also ordered them both to pay £4,063 in court costs.

Speaking after the case Jackie Monk, the EA's investigating officer, said: "This incident could have caused serious harm to the fishery in the rivers Hodder and Ribble.

"However we believe that because it happened during a period of very cold and wet weather, it prevented a major fish kill - had it happened a month or so later, things could have been very different."