THE directors of two construction companies were fined a total of £11,000 after they admitted a pollution offence that led to killing protected mussels.
At Perth Sheriff Court Alan Smith and Charles Kippen were fined for offences that broke water and environment regulations. Both had pled guilty to the offences at an earlier hearing in December.
The men were directors of A & C Construction (Scotland) Ltd and Charles Kippen was also a director of plant hire business Chic Kippen & Son. Both companies failed to ensure effective silt mitigation measures were in place between May and October 2010 at a hydro scheme site in Perthshire.
Their operations, including construction of a pipeline, a ford and an access track, caused pollution of the surrounding watercourses and “extensive” environmental damage to the river bed of the River Lyon, killing and injuring rare freshwater pearl mussels.
In addition, Alan Smith admitted a failure to ensure effective silt mitigation measures by A & C Construction in 2010 at another hydro project in Argyll, where the construction of ford crossings, an access track and coffer dam allowed the pollution of local watercourses.
At a hearing at the Sheriff Court in February, Shawater Ltd, the company which provided the engineering design for the Perth site, was fined £4,000 after pleading guilty to permitting employees of A & C Construction and Chic Kippen to carry out the activities that caused the pollution of the watercourses in Perthshire.
Craig Harris, procurator fiscal for wildlife and environment, said: “These crimes have caused a terrible impact on their respective environments and, in the case of the Perth site, a population of freshwater pearl mussels has been left devastated by the damage caused.
“That crime has an impact on an international scale given Scotland’s importance to the world’s freshwater pearl mussel population. It is unclear how long it will take for this mussel colony to recover, if it even can.”
The case drew the attention of environment minister Paul Wheelhouse who also chairs the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland. He commented: “Scotland’s rivers are a stronghold for freshwater pearl mussels, containing as much as half the entire global population. We therefore have a duty, not just to Scotland but to the rest of the world, to protect this internationally significant and endangered species.
“It is extremely disappointing that an important population of pearl mussels in the River Lyon has been badly damaged by this case of environmental crime.”
He added: “I hope the successful prosecution will act as a warning to others that such reckless pollution of Scotland’s natural environment will not be tolerated and that the Scottish Government, and our partners, will take whatever action is necessary to tackle the scourge of wildlife crime.”