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Farmer (39) fined for causing water pollution

A 39-year-old farmer has appeared in court for water pollution offences.

Derry farmer, Adrian Bates, with an address at Ballyronan Road, Magherafelt, was convicted yesterday at Magherafelt Magistrates Court for water pollution offences.

Bates pleaded guilty and was fined a total of £1,000.

The court heard that on November 27th 2019, Water Quality Inspectors (WQIs) acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of grey fungus in a waterway adjacent to Ballynagarve Road, Magherafelt.

They observed a “significant” amount of white/grey fungal growth in the waterway, and they detected a smell of silage effluent from the water.

Water pollution offences

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

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They discovered run-off from a manure heap was entering a storm gully.

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

The court heard that a positive dye test proved the link between the storm chamber and the waterway.

Concrete storm chamber

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

They analysed the sample, which 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, which may lead to the destruction of fish spawning sites, as well as starving river invertebrates, on which fish feed, of oxygen.

The inspectors revisited the farm on November 28th, 2019 and inspected the storm chamber.

The liquid in the chamber was “much cleaner” than the previous day.

However, the court heard it remained “unfit” for discharge to the storm system.

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