Farmer convicted over fish kill

Date published: 13 September 2017

A Fermanagh farmer was today convicted of allowing slurry to enter a waterway causing a major fish kill.

Victor Armstrong, Ardlougher Road, Irvinestown was given a conditional discharge at Enniskillen Magistrates' Court today. The court also ordered Victor Armstrong to pay costs of the fish kill, totalling £2,642.

On 5 May 2016, Water Quality Inspectors (WQIs), acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of pig slurry in the Ballycassidy/Irvinestown River. 

The Inspectors proceeded to a farmyard and discovered that slurry had been flowing over the yard and into the waterway from the direction of a slurry reception tank. In accordance with procedures the Inspector collected a statutory sample of the slurry as it made its way to the waterway via a black pipe.

The next day, inspectors responded to a further report that the river was grey in colour and smelled strongly of pig slurry. They noticed a number of brown trout distressed and dying as the plume flowed downstream.  Colleagues from DAERA Inland Fisheries walked from Drumgarrow Bridge to the confluence with the Ballycassidy River and counted 183 dead brown Trout, 35 Roach and 2 Pike. The waterway was impacted for a distance of 10 km.  

A sample taken at the time of the incident confirmed that the discharge contained poisonous, noxious or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway.

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

Notes to editors: 

  1. Victor Armstrong was charged under Article 7(1)(a) of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 with the offence of making a polluting discharge to a waterway.
  2. The numbers of fish counted by Inland Fisheries is not indicative of the numbers of fish mortalities.
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