Factory behind Cathedral City's best-selling Cheddar has poisoned fish

Factory behind Cathedral City’s best-selling Cheddar has poisoned salmon, trout and other fish while giving Cornwall locals headaches with a ‘foul’ stink, court hears

The factory making Cathedral City’s best-selling Cheddar cheese poisoned salmon, trout and other fish by polluting a river and gave residents headaches with a ‘foul’ stink, a court heard.

Dairy Crest admitted 21 pollution incidents and permit breaches that have occurred since 2016 at its Davidstow Creamery near Camelford, Cornwall.

The repeated poisonings led to fish kills in the River Inny in 2016 and 2018.

The company will be sentenced in May and could face substantial fines and costs after the case, brought by the Environment Agency, which has had an initial hearing at Truro Crown Court.

The factory making Cathedral City’s best-selling Cheddar cheese poisoned salmon, trout and other fish by polluting a river and gave residents headaches with a ‘foul’ stink, a court heard

People living near the Cheddar cheese factory said in 2018 that their lives had been blighted by a foul smell that kept them awake at night and gave them headaches.

Eleven of the charges admitted by the firm relate to contravening environmental permits with discharges of waste into the River Inny between December 2015 and January 2021, the court heard.

Dairy Crest, whose brands include Cathedral City cheese, buys milk from about 300 farmers in the area. It is owned by Canadian firm Saputo.

Charges refer to ‘biological sludge’, ‘suspended solids’ and ‘partially treated creamery effluent’.

The River Inny is used for breeding by increasingly-endangered Atlantic salmon and are home to native wild brown trout and smaller species like bullheads and loaches.

Two offences relate to contravening permits on odour between June 2016 and June 2020.

The company will be sentenced in May and could face substantial fines and costs after the case, brought by the Environment Agency, which has had an initial hearing at Truro Crown Court

Another charge was waiting for more than a month in August 2018 to tell the EA about discharge breaches.

A further charge said the company allowed discharges on 16 August 2016 ‘to such an extent as to cause the waters to be poisonous or injurious to fish or the spawn of fish or food of fish’.

Six charges will remain on file which the EA can pursue later if there is reoffending.

The firm said in a statement it had ‘undertaken a significant amount of work to rectify the historic issues to which the prosecution relates’.

It added it was ‘proud to be a major employer in Cornwall and are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen in the region’.

The court was told the company was working to remedy the problems but there were still ongoing issues.

Davidstow has a ‘long history of making award winning cheddar of consistent quality and is the home of the distinctive, smooth and creamy taste of Cathedral City’, says the company’s website.

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