Farmer fined for water pollution offence that led to Clady River fish kill

A Portglenone farmer has been convicted at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court for a water pollution offence that led to a fish kill.

Richard Mulholland (40) from Ballymacpeake Road pleaded guilty and was fined £500 plus £15 Offenders Levy and ordered to pay £304.84 as compensation as a result of the

The court was told that on July 29, 2021 a Senior Water Quality Inspector (SWQI) acting on behalf of Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of pollution close to the Angling Club House on Mayogall Road, Clady.

The SWQI made his way across several fields to a location where a small sheugh containing a dark green/brown coloured liquid was observed entering the main Clady River. The SWQI estimated the distance of impact from the discharge point in the sheugh to the Clady River to be 980 metres and a further 3km of the Clady River was impacted. The SWQI checked the waterways and visited local farms while continuing to search for the source of contamination until it was too dark to continue.

The case was dealt with at Coleraine Magistrates Court.

The SWQI returned to the area on 30 July 2021 to continue with the investigation. The SWQI examined a drainage chamber in a field on Ballymacpeake Road that leads to a small waterway that flows into the Clady River.

The flow was foaming in nature and smelled of agricultural effluent. A large pool of agricultural effluent was observed entering a roadside surface water gully. The SWQI inspected a drainage chamber to check the connection between these gullies and the receiving waterway. The SWQI added fluorescein tracing dye to the end of the pipe in the chamber and confirmed it was connected to the waterway.

In accordance with procedures a tripartite statutory sample of the active discharge was collected and 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 both fish and river invertebrates, on which fish feed, of oxygen. Effluents with high ammonia content, as was the case with this one, are also directly toxic to fish life in receiving watercourses.

DAERA Fisheries Officers carried out a dead fish count and a total of 146 dead fish were counted.