A Co. Antrim farmer pleaded guilty and was given a three months prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Ballymena Magistrates' Court today.
William Madill Kerr (74) from Cladytown Road, Ballymena, was convicted of causing a polluting discharge to enter a waterway.
On December 20th 2017, Water Quality Inspectors - acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency - discovered slurry deposited on the laneway leading to a farm at Cladytown Road, Ballymena.
Slurry had recently flowed down the laneway into a track cut in a roadside verge, before entering a sheugh which discharges into an unnamed tributary of the River Maine, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
On January 9th, inspectors returned to the farm where they discovered that slurry had again recently flowed down the laneway, along the Cladytown Road, before entering the same sheugh which, on observation, was shown to contain a large volume of slurry.
In accordance with procedures, a tripartite statutory sample was collected.
On 30 January 2018, as arranged, inspectors returned to the farm to determine if remedial works required by the Department to remedy the situation at the farm had been completed.
The inspectors discovered the laneway was dirty and there was evidence that again slurry had recently flowed down the laneway and into the sheugh. They also observed slurry tanks overflowing at the rear of the farm.
On March 6th 2018, during a further inspection, the inspectors discovered slurry escaping from an overflowing tank at the rear of the farm and flowing onto an adjacent field. Slurry from a cattle shed was also spilling onto a yard.
The analysis of the discharge collected on January 9th, 2018 was found to contain poisonous, noxious, or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway, the DAERA stressed.
“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.”