Residents lives were ‘blighted’ by foul odours and thousands of fish had been killed in local rivers over the period, Truro Crown Court heard.
Dairy Crest Limited, which was acquired by Canadian dairy processor Saputo in 2019 had previously pleaded guilty to 21 of 27 charges brought by the Environment Agency (EA). For committing these offences, the firm was fined £1.52m at Truro Crown Court on 23 June 2022. It had already agreed to pay costs of £272,747.
Delivering the sentence, his honour judge Simon Carr said he had not seen consistent performance evidenced by the company over a five-year period. The judge referred to a poor, middle management culture as a contributing factor to the environmental harm caused that should have been dealt with by senior management much sooner.
He said it felt like there was never a time without a problem and some of those responsible for the wastewater treatment plant felt bullied and unable to come forward.
The EA said the environmental performance of Dairy Crest Limited, which now trades as Saputo Dairy UK had been unacceptable for too long and needed to significantly improve.
Since the site had changed production to focus on whey processing, particularly to produce powder used in baby milk and other products, the effluent discharged into the River Inny had been more challenging to treat, the EA observed. This had resulted in unacceptable pollution of the local river, causing significant harm to fish and other aquatic wildlife.