A Perthshire firm has been ordered to slash its operations by half after failing to tell officials that its director had been convicted of destroying a pearl mussel colony.
At a hearing on Thursday, the Traffic Commissioner, Joan Aitken, ruled that Chic Kippen and Son, of Stanley, should only be allowed to operate three vehicles and one trailer.
She also ordered that any application to increase the fleet should not be considered in the next 12 months.
The business was previously authorised to operate six vehicles and two trailers.
During the inquiry Miss Aitken heard that Charles Kippen had been prosecuted following an investigation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which uncovered a number of breaches of regulations.
Mr Kippen was sentenced at Perth Sherriff Court on March 19 last year after pleading guilty to breaching the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003. With co-accused and joint director of A&C Construction, Alan Smith, Mr Kippen admitted causing damage to the river Lyon mussel colony while undertaking work on a hydro scheme intended to produce electricity for 600 homes.
Several miles of the river were badly damaged and the silt pollution level was almost 40 times higher downstream of the works than it was upstream. The basic repair work cost £1 million. At the time, experts said the damage was so severe that the river will take hundreds of years to recover.
Kippen was fined £5,000 but the company failed to notify his conviction to the Traffic Commissioner, as required.
Miss Aitken heard evidence from Mr Kippen during the inquiry, including details of the offences and mitigation for the breaches.
The Traffic Commissioner ruled that the operator had breached the requirement to notify the director’s convictions to her office but made no direction with respect to the company’s good repute. She did, however, express to Mr Kippen her dismay at the circumstances of the offence.
Mr Kippen was a joint director of A&C Construction, which has since gone into liquidation. He told The Courier that his current company was not involved in the incident which led to the pollution.
He said: “It wasn’t Chic Kippen and Son that got fined, it was me as a director of A&C.”
According to Scottish Natural Heritage, 72 of Scotland’s rivers support reproducing populations of freshwater pearl mussel, including many of the world’s largest populations.
The species is one of the most critically endangered molluscs in the world.