Fish Legal calls for stiff sentencing of Cathedral City cheddar producer for environmental crimes

31st January 2022

Fish Legal, working with Launceston Anglers’ Association (LAA), has been told by the Environment Agency that they are reviewing the site permit for Davidstow Creamery in Cornwall following a conviction in December for 21 environmental offences at the site. These included multiple low-level pollutions of the River Inny and serious fish kills.

Davidstow Creamery is owned by Saputo Dairy UK who produce Cathedral City Cheddar, the only cheddar maker to hold a Royal Warrant and supplier to Her Majesty the Queen. 

In 2018, evidence of pollution was recorded on the upper River Inny by Launceston Anglers’ Association, who are members of Fish Legal. Their monitoring found high levels of phosphate pollution and they witnessed fish kills first-hand.  Fish Legal subsequently investigated environmental compliance at the site. This revealed shocking levels of environmental permit breaches by the dairy giant, with Fish Legal subsequently demanding action from the regulator.

Geoff Hardy solicitor with Fish Legal said, “Although sewage and discharges into our waterways have been a focus lately, this is only part of the problem. Industrial processes such as intensive farming or food production can have a huge impact on rural areas. This case could serve as a warning for highly profitable industrial processors in our countryside but only if the sentence in this case truly reflects the impact on the environment and the local community.  Tough sentencing was recently acknowledged by the Environmental Audit Committee as being a critical deterrent to polluters.”

Martin Harmer, Chairman of LAA said, “As anglers we have been all too aware of problems on the River Inny caused by this site.  Chronic and acute pollutions on the Inny have been going on for years.  But despite reporting these, it has taken the Environment Agency a long time to take action. Saputo says it is committed to improvement at the Davidstow site but that will remain to be seen. We hope that this, along with the promise by the regulator of a permit review, will be a turning point for the river and give its ecology a chance to recover.”

Saputo is expected to be sentenced on 26/27 May 2022 at Truro Magistrates Court.

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