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Co Antrim farmer fined for water pollution offence that led to a fish kill

A County Antrim farmer, Mark Patterson (50) from Carmavy Road, Crumlin was convicted today at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court for a water pollution offence.

Mr Patterson pleaded guilty and was fined £1,000 plus £15 Offenders Levy and ordered to pay £1,733.94 as compensation as a result of a fish kill.

The Court was told that on 15 May 2021 a Water Quality Inspector (WQI) acting on behalf of Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of pollution affecting the Dunore River.

The WQI discovered the Dunore River was brown in colour and foam was observed on the surface of the waterway. The WQI established that agricultural effluent was flowing into the Dunore River from a small sheugh from the direction of the farm premises on the Carmavy Road. The WQI continued upstream, the sheugh was piped under a laneway. The WQI found the location from where the sheugh flowed out from the piped section.

The source of the pollution was an outlet hatch from a slurry tank which had not been closed properly the previous evening, causing the reception tank to overfill and the slurry had flowed over a field, enter the sheugh at the bottom of the field before discharging to the Dunore River.

The WQI had recommended that a sump was dug at the open section of the sheugh to contain the remaining slurry, and it was acknowledged that Mr Patterson had carried out clean-up activities to prevent any further discharges to the Dunore River.

In accordance with procedures a tripartite statutory sample of the active discharge was collected and analysed and found to contain poisonous, noxious, or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway. 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.

Effluents with high ammonia content, as was the case with this one, are also directly toxic to fish life in receiving watercourses.

On 17 May 2021 DAERA Fisheries Officers carried out a dead fish count, a total of 1448 dead fish were counted.

Anyone wishing to report a pollution incident can call the 24 hour Water Pollution Hotline on: 0800 80 70 60.


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