Farmer jailed for 12 months after digging up and 'destroying' River Lugg habitats

The River's banks were dug up, a court heard. Credit: The Environment Agency.

A farmer from Herefordshire has been sentenced to twelve months in prison after causing "destruction" to a 1.5km stretch of the River Lugg.

John Price had pled guilty to seven charges. A court heard he had hired diggers to illegally dig up the banks of the river, and had failed to prevent it becoming polluted.

He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £600,000 and disqualified from being a director of a limited company for three years.

In addition, a Restoration Order under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 was imposed requiring Mr Price to carry out a number of actions to restore the river. 

The Court heard how diggers had uprooted trees along the banks of the river. Credit: Environment Agency

The case was brought after joint legal action by Natural England and the Environment Agency, who claimed Mr Price's actions destroyed the habitats of otters and kingfishers, among others.

Speaking after the sentencing, an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The destruction of this section of the River Lugg was devastating for the abundance and range of species which thrived in this river.

"The River Lugg is one of the most iconic rivers in the UK and to see this wanton destruction take place was devastating.

"This is why we have used our powers as regulators to see that justice was done and to act as a stark warning to others that we will take the strongest action against those who do not respect the laws that protect the environment and wildlife we all cherish."