A Northern Irish farmer has been handed a three month prison sentence suspended for two years after pleading guilty to causing pollution in a waterway.
William Madill Kerr, 74, from Ballymena, County Antrim, was convicted at Ballymena Magistrates' Court on Thursday 9 May for causing a polluting discharge to enter a waterway.
On 20 December 2017, Water Quality Inspectors, acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, discovered slurry deposited on a lane leading to Mr Kerr's farm.
Slurry had recently flowed down the lane into a track cut in a roadside verge, before entering a trough which discharges into an unnamed tributary of the River Maine.
On 9 January 2018, inspectors returned to the farm where they discovered that slurry had again recently flowed down the lane, along the Cladytown Road, before entering the same trough which, on observation, was shown to contain a large volume of slurry.
In accordance with procedures, a tripartite statutory sample was collected.
Slurry tanks overflowing
On 30 January 2018, inspectors returned to the farm to determine if remedial works at the farm had been completed.
They discovered the lane was dirty and there was evidence that again slurry had recently flowed down and into the trough. They also observed slurry tanks overflowing at the rear of the farm.
On 6 March 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 9 January 2018 was 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.
Mr Kerr was convicted and charged under Article 7(1)(a) and Article 7(3) of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 for the offence of causing a polluting discharge to enter a waterway on 9 January 2018 and given a three months prison sentence suspended for two years.