A CROP protection company has been fined £10,000 for polluting a beck and killing thousands of fish.

CSC Crop Protection Ltd, of Glenearn Road, Perth, Scotland, admitted causing ammonia sulphate to enter Hutton Beck, Richmond, in September last year.

Northallerton Magistrates' Court heard how the wrong type of tank was used to store 44,000 gallons of ammonia sulphate at Lane Head Farm, Hutton Magna.

It was due to be supplied to farmers for crop protection, but the tank split and some of the fertiliser seeped into the drainage system.

Tests by the Environment Agency showed high levels of ammonia in the beck and more than 6,500 fish were killed, including an estimated 100 brown trout and 150 eels.

The firm said it regretted what had happened and was no longer using this type of tank. The magistrates heard that it was the first incident the company had suffered in 25 years of operation and it had co-operated fully with the agency's investigation.

The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £663.39 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case.

Paul Armstrong, the agency's investigating officer, said: "This spillage of fertiliser had a major impact on the fish life in Hutton Beck which could have been avoided if codes of practice had been followed."