NI farmer fined £1,000 after pleading guilty to water pollution

A Co Londonderry farmer has been ordered to pay out £1,000 after a ‘significant amount’ of pollution was discovered in a local waterway.

Adrian Bates, 39, of Ballyronan Road, Magherafelt was convicted at Magherafelt Magistrates Court for water pollution offences on Wednesday (23 November).

The court heard that on 27 November 2019, water quality inspectors (WQIs) acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of grey fungus in waterway adjacent to his farm.

The inspectors said they observed a significant amount of white/grey fungal growth in the waterway and a smell of silage effluent was detected from the water.

They arrived at a farm at Ballyronan Road where they proceeded to inspect a silage clamp and collection facilities on the farm.

The NIEA inspectors said they discovered run-off from a manure heap that was entering a storm gully.

They examined a storm chamber where the liquid was dark in colour and smelled of silage effluent.

A positive dye test proved the link between the storm chamber and the waterway.

In accordance with procedures a tripartite statutory sample was collected from the concrete storm chamber.

The sample was analysed and found to contain poisonous, noxious, or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway.

According to the NIEA, effluents of this nature enrich fungus coverage on the bed of the watercourse which may lead to the destruction of fish spawning sites, as well as starving river invertebrates, on which fish feed, of oxygen.

NIEA inspectors revisited the farm on 28 November 2019 and inspected the storm chamber, which they said the liquid in the chamber was ‘much cleaner’ than the previous day.

However, they added that it “remained unfit for discharge to the storm system”.

Mr Bates pleaded guilty at Magherafelt Magistrates Court on Wednesday and was fined a total of £1,000.

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