A STEELEND farmer has gone on trial accused of polluting a burn with cattle slurry put on his fields.

It is alleged that Bluther Burn was polluted over a five-kilometre area, killing off fish.

The incident happened in October 2016 when James Cowser instructed his nephew to put the slurry on three of his fields.

A report was made by a member of the public about pollution to the burn and inspectors from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) found the water was discoloured.

Cowser, 54, of Lynn Farm, Steelend, is representing himself. He said during the trial: “I’ve never denied it got into the burn but it was an accident.”

He denies the three charges he faces.

He is accused that between October 7-12 2016, at Lynn Farm, he permitted Alexander Winchester, a contractor, to carry on a controlled activity and instructed him, a newly-appointed farm hand, to carry out the spreading of slurry on fields without adequate supervision or training and, as a consequence, a quantity of slurry discharged into the water environment, namely the Bluther Burn, causing pollution and adversely affected the invertebrate and fish populations up to five kilometres from the discharge point, causing the deaths of fish and invertebrates.

A second charge relates to slurry being applied to land within 10 metres of the Bluther Burn.

The third charge is that slurry was applied to land in excess of the nutrient needs of the crop and, as a result, polluted the burn.

On several occasions, Sheriff Charles MacNair had to warn Cowser about his frequent interruptions and outbursts from the dock.

During one of these he claimed there was a “conspiracy” against him and he had only been prosecuted because he had spoken out on other agricultural issues.

The trial continues on Thursday.