A SPALDING private fishing lake owner has been fined £3,300 for abstracting water from the Blue Gowt Drain without a licence, only weeks before the county was officially declared in drought.
Michael Yould, of Woolram Wygate, pleaded guilty to running a pump from the drain to water trees around Clay Lakes in Pode Hole from May 18 to 26 last year. He was also ordered to pay full costs of £3,873.
Spalding Magistrates’ Court heard Yould abstracted an estimated 806.52 cubic metres of water from the drain – the equivalent of just under a third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Claire Corfield said: “An internal drainage board member of staff who visited the scene said it appeared the sprayer was being used to water trees and top up the lake.”
Yould, a plumber, told investigating officers he had taken water only for the trees and shrubs.
Mrs Corfield said: “There is no evidence of any impact on the environment, but it was during a very dry period before the Secretary of State declared the area in drought in June last year.”
Defending, Daven Naghan said it was an offence “borne out of ignorance.”
He said Yould had been unaware it was illegal to take water out of the drain without a licence and that the sprinkler used as much as it did.
The Environment Agency had given him permission to fill the lake from the drain when he built it in 2008.
He said: “It was very dry and the water drained back off the land into the drain. Had he noticed levels in the drain going down, he would have switched the pump off.
“This was barren land that has been turned into a fishing lake and in the future will be an area of natural beauty.
“But it is not a commercial venture – at the moment it is used by a handful of Mr Yould’s friends.”
Environment Agency Officer Rachel Parker said afterwards illegal water abstraction hampered their ability to manage water resources.
She said: “At a time when there had been unusually low rainfall, it was essential that water in the area was managed sensibly and Mr Yould would not have been allowed a licence at that time, even if he had applied for one.
“We all have a part to play in conserving water at this time.”