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Country club boss fined over poor quality effluent

The owner of a Cornish country club has been ordered to pay £3,347 in fines and costs for discharging poor quality effluent from a sewage treatment works. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

Lakeview Country Club is a privately owned leisure complex set in 220 acres of countryside outside the village of Lanivet near Bodmin. Open all the year round, the site offers holiday accommodation and a range of facilities including fishing lakes, a golf course and swimming pool.

The Club has its own sewage treatment works that discharges to a soakaway. The system must operate to certain standards as laid down in the site's Consent to Discharge. The consent holder is Vernon Knight Associates, a trading name for the owner, John Michael Vernon.

On March 3, 2008 an Environment Agency officer visited Lakeview Country Club after the owner said he intended to further develop the site and applied to vary the Consent to Discharge.

The officer inspected the sewage treatment works and noticed the final effluent was of poor quality. A sample was taken and when analysed, the effluent was found to exceed permitted levels for the three consent parameters – Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), suspended solids and ammonia. The BOD level of 221mg/litre was more than 10 times above the maximum consent limit of 20mg/l.

Investigations revealed the poor effluent was caused by a split pipe on a compressor. The subsequent reduction in pressure meant there was insufficient air in the system for the filter beds to operate correctly. As a result, the effluent turned septic.

'It is important private sewage treatment systems are properly maintained and that effluent is regularly tested to ensure sites remain compliant. This site was prosecuted for a similar offence in 2005 so the owner should have been fully aware of his responsibilities,' said Phil Christie for the Environment Agency.

John Michael Vernon, of Lakeview Country Club was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,347 costs by East Cornwall magistrates sitting in Bodmin after pleading guilty to contravening a condition of his Consent to Discharge at Lakeview Country Club, Lanivet, Cornwall contrary to Section 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

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