County Londonderry farmer convicted of water pollution

Date published: 28 November 2018

County Londonderry farmer William Robert Alexander Brown (73) from Megargy Road, Magherafelt was convicted and fined £500 plus £15 Offenders Levy at Magherafelt Magistrates’ Court today for causing water pollution.

On 6 December 2016, a Water Quality Inspector (WQI) acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of pollution affecting an unnamed tributary of the Moyola River. The Inspector observed grey fungus and an agricultural odour was detected from the waterway.

The Inspector examined a silage clamp and an above ground slurry store where silage effluent was observed flowing around the perimeter of the slurry store. Silage effluent was observed flowing through a hole in the concrete adjacent to a reception tank.

In accordance with procedures a statutory sample of the active discharge was collected from the inspection chamber. The Inspector estimated the rate of discharge as approximately one litre per minute. The Inspectors added fluorescein tracing dye to the storm drainage chamber. Prior to leaving the farm, the Inspector observed that sand had been placed in the hole adjacent to the reception tank to ensure that no further silage effluent would discharge to the reception tank.   

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. William Robert Alexander Brown was fined £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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