County Antrim farmers fined for causing water pollution

Date published: 28 November 2018

County Antrim farmers Andrew McIlwaine (74) from Ballynashee Road, Ballyclare and his son William McIlwaine (49) from Sawmill Road, Ballyclare were convicted and fined a total of £2,250 plus £15 Offenders Levy each at Ballymena Magistrates' Court today for causing water pollution.

On 7 and 16 August 2017, a Water Quality Inspector acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency responded to a report of pollution which resulted in farm effluent being discharged to the Islekelly Burn, a tributary of the Six Mile Water.

On 16 August 2017, the waterway was discoloured and visibly impacted with extensive fungal growth. The inspector located a pipe discharging a brown coloured liquid with an agricultural odour, synonymous with containing silage effluent. The inspector entered the farm at Ballynashee Road and observed a below ground tank receiving seepage from two silage clamps and from a large midden area. The contents of this tank were found to be discharging directly to the Burn.

In accordance with procedures a statutory sample of the discharge was collected. The inspector discovered 100% coverage of fungus in the waterway, for a distance of at least 30 metres downstream of the farm. 

The sample of the discharge was 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.    

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

Notes to editors: 

  1. Andrew McIlwaine was fined £750 and William McIlwaine was fined £1,500 and charged under Article 7(1)(a) of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 for the offence of making a polluting discharge to a waterway on 16 August 2017.
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