Galway farmer convicted and fined for polluting river with silage effluent

A farmer in Co. Galway has been convicted and fined for allowing silage effluent to enter a river, which resulted in a fish kill, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Michael Conneally of Boyounagh, Glenamaddy was convicted of a breach of the Water Pollution Act at a recent sitting of Tuam District Court.

He pleaded guilty to permitting silage effluent to enter the Yellow River, a tributary of the Clare River in Co. Galway, on June 15, 2016.

The source of the fish kill was traced back to a pipe originating from a silage pit on Conneally’s land, according to a Senior Fisheries Environmental Officer at Inland Fisheries Ireland, David Harrington.

The pollution incident reportedly resulted in damage to the fish stock levels in the Yellow River, while environmental officers also noted that there was an absence of aquatic life for a considerable distance downstream.

Despite the farmer having fully co-operated with officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland and attempting to resolve the situation without delay, the polluting matter had already impacted the river.

A fine of €750 was handed down to Conneally by Judge Mary Devins; the farmer was given three months to pay. He will also be required to pay laboratory expenses of €464.94 and legal costs of €600.

Agricultural pollution

The CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland, Dr. Ciaran Byrne, reminded farmers to remain vigilant, in order to help protect Ireland’s waterways from agricultural pollution.

“At this time of year, silage is in full swing and effluent can be a highly toxic substance when it gets into rivers – starving the fish and invertebrate life of oxygen.

This incident on the Clare River highlights the large impact one leak can have on our fisheries resource.

The Clare River is the largest tributary of Lough Corrib and sees thousands of salmon and trout run the river to spawn every year, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland.

It also provides a valuable angling facility for local and tourist anglers in the west of Ireland, it added. A total of six angling clubs along the river rely on the responsible, environmental stewardship of local farmers to maintain the Clare River as a key angling resource.