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€16,500 fine for landowner’s Freshwater Pearl Mussel’s habitat damage

A Donegal landowner will now have to pay €16,500 for damage to the habitat of Freshwater Pearl Mussel.

Mr Richard Homer of Orchard Drive, Donegal town, has appeared before Donegal District Court in connection with the offence.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service brought the case against Mr Homer.

He cleared vegetation, disturbed the bank of the River Eske in Milltown, Donegal and dug several drains to the river.

This work resulted in what the court heard was “significant” sedimentation to the river. It resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Freshwater Pearl Mussels and “significant” stress on those that survived.

Although he pleaded not guilty to all three separate charges against him, he was found guilty of breaching Section 23 of the Wildlife Act 1976.

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He “willfully” disturbed the breeding and resting place of a protected wild animal. Under Section 69 of the same act, he used a mechanically propelled vehicle in the commissioning of an offence.

Under Regulation 35 of the Birds and Natural Habitats Regulations 2011, he caused “significant” damage to a European site.

In court, the judge ordered him to pay €3,000 for each offence, along with €2,500 towards a restoration plan for the site and costs of €5,000.

About Freshwater Pearl Mussel:

  • Critically and increasingly endangered species;
  • Protected under both the Wildlife Act 1976 and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011;
  • River Eske is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for the species. The River Eske is “one of the most important” rivers in Europe for the species;
  • Very vulnerable to activities that impact water quality, particularly sedimentation, which will settle on riverbeds. This creates a physical barrier to water circulation and deprives the mussels of oxygen.
Farmer in court over using lavender extracts as a health supplement for calves

In other court-related news, a farmer across the waters in Canterbury, New Zealand, has appeared in court following the death of “a large number” of calves.

62-year-old John Yi Jiang came before Christchurch District Court in connection with the matter on Friday, July 1st, 2022.

Read more on this story.

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