AD plant found operating without licence fined over fish kill

A mid-Ulster anaerobic digestion (AD) plant has been forced to cough up almost £3,500, after it was found to have caused a fish kill on the Altagoan River in Co. Derry.

A check on the business’ records after the pollution incident found that it also had been operating without the correct licence.

Draperstown firm J&A Renewables Ltd was fined £1,600 and ordered to pay compensation of £1,845 at Magherafelt Magistrates Court.

The firm was found to have caused a fish kill in the Altagoan River and had been operating an anaerobic digestion plant without a valid Waste Management Authorisation licence.

‘Green in colour’

On November 11, 2016, water quality inspectors acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), responded to a report of pollution.

The issue was found to be affecting the Altagoan River, a tributary of the Moyola River downstream of Gortnaskea Road, Draperstown.

The court heard the inspector observed the waterway to be green in colour and an odour of slurry was detected from the waterway.

The inspector crossed an abandoned railway embankment and entered an area to the rear of the anaerobic digester site.

He saw slurry discharging from a blue pipe, flowing down the lagoon embankment and discharging to the Altagoan River, where several brown trout were dead.

In accordance with procedures, a sample of the discharge was collected.

The court ordered the firm to pay £1,845 compensation in respect of the fish kill.

No licence

Just 10 days later, a search of departmental records confirmed that there was no authorisation or application for an anaerobic digestion plant to operate at that site on the Gortnaskea Road, Draperstown.

The business 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 and Article 4(1)(a) of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.

Anyone wishing to report a pollution incident can call the 24-hour water pollution hotline on: 0800-80-70-60.