A farmer in Northern Ireland has appeared in court for causing water pollution that led to a fish kill.
Mark McClelland (45), with an address at Old Glenarm Road, Ballygalley, Larne, came before Ballymena Magistrates Court for a water pollution offence on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022.
Mr McClelland pleaded guilty, and the judge ordered him to pay £500 plus a £15 Offenders Levy.
The judge also requested that he pays £56.52 as compensation as a result of a fish kill.
The court heard that on March 6th, 2021, a Senior Water Quality Inspector (SWQI), acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), responded to a water pollution report.
As a result, they inspected the waterway at Millvale, Ballygalley and discovered that it was brown.
They observed foam on the surface of the waterway. The court also heard that the farmer had contacted the NIEA Hotline number to report the incident to the NIEA.
On site, the SWQI noticed signs that the reception tank associated with the farm’s above-ground slurry store had overflowed.
During discussions with Mr McClelland, the SWQI concluded that a“faulty valve” at the slurry store caused the incident.
Slurry had escaped from the slurry store, and flowed down the adjacent sloping field towards an open field drain before entering the nearby waterway, the Ballygalley Burn.
In accordance with procedures, officers collected a tripartite statutory sample of the active discharge and analysed it.
They found to contain poisonous, noxious, or polluting matter, which was “potentially” harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway.
The court heard that effluents of this nature enrich fungus coverage on the bed of the watercourse.
They pointed out that this may lead to the destruction of fish spawning sites and 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 March 7th, 2021, Fisheries Officers carried out a dead fish count, and identified 83 dead trout.
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