Cowdray Estate fined after 4,000 fish deaths

Lord Cowdray The estate is owned by Lord Cowdray, also owner of Cowdray Park Polo Club

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The Cowdray Estate has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay more than £10,000 costs for polluting a West Sussex tributary, killing 4,000 fish.

Soil from trees uprooted during timber logging in Verdley Wood ran into a tributary of the River Lod in July 2012, Worthing magistrates heard.

The pollution led to the death of fish at Surney Fish Farm near Fernhurst, the Environment Agency (EA) said.

The Cowdray Estate pleaded guilty to contravening its environmental permit.

Logging activity is routinely carried out at Verdley Wood, part of the estate owned by Lord Cowdray, who also owns Cowdray Park Polo Club.

'Fishery devastated'

The EA said the sediment escaped during very wet conditions during which estate staff continued to carry out forestry work despite persistent heavy rainfall and the deteriorating state of the ground.

After pollution affecting three miles (5km) of the watercourse was traced to Verdley Wood the estate was ordered to stop work immediately.

"It is very disappointing that such a large estate with a great number of resources at its disposal failed to plan effectively to ensure that the sensitive local environment was not put at risk," said EA spokesman Mat Jackson.

"As a result a large of number of fish needlessly died and a local fishery was devastated by a totally avoidable incident."

Robert Windle from the Cowdray Estate said in a statement: "Whilst not wanting to belittle the offence in any way, I would point out that as soon as we were contacted by the Environment Agency (some 12 days after they were first notified of the sediment in the Lod), the estate took immediate and effective steps to prevent any further sediment flow."

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