A farmer was fined for causing pollution to a river in Co. Armagh earlier today, according to Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Owen Martin, of Old Road, Drumintee, Newry, Co. Armagh was fined £500 (€547), along with a £15 (€16.41) Offenders Levy, at Newry Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to causing polluting discharge to enter a waterway.

On November 25, 2015, a water quality inspector – working for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) – inspected an outfarm at Shaughan Road, Belleeks.

Silage effluent was discharging from the farm and was subsequently observed to be flowing across the road, then down a laneway opposite the farm before entering a tributary of the Ballinasack and Forkhill River.

Downstream, the inspector noted a significant covering of sewage fungus on the bed of the waterway.

The inspector returned to the farm and discovered that an effluent collection channel, close to the silage pit (clamp), was blocked with mud, debris and vegetation causing the overflow.

The effluent was observed flowing freely between the silage pit and the roadway and the waterway was visibly impacted for a distance greater than 1km.

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 waterway.

Tyrone man fined for illegal waste disposal

This is not the first pollution case heard before the courts in recent times. Earlier in the month, a Tyrone man was fined for waste offences.

Kevin McGrade of Aghnamoe Road, Dromore, Co Tyrone, was fined £500 at Omagh Magistrates’ Court for depositing controlled waste – and was given a two-year conditional discharge for keeping controlled waste without waste management authorisation.

Officials from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) visited a site on four different occasions between March 2015 and June 2016, at lands adjacent to 58 Aghnamoe Road, Dromore, Co. Tyrone, where approximately 2,600t of controlled waste was dumped.

The waste consisted of concrete, brick, insulation material, plastic piping, silage wrap, clay, hard plastic, glass, electrical wiring, timber and metal mixed with soil.

McGrade was found to not have the proper waste authorisation to deposit or keep controlled waste on the site. As well as the £500 fine and conditional discharge, McGrade also had to pay a £15 offender’s levy.