A 34-year-old farmer has been convicted and fined by a court in Northern Ireland for water pollution offences.

Andrew Hogg of Coollane Road, Maguiresbridge appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Wednesday, March 13) where he was fined a total of £500 plus £15 offenders levy.

Hogg pleaded guilty and was fined £250 under Article 7(1)(a) of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 for the offence of making a polluting discharge to a waterway on June 16, 2023.

He also pleaded guilty and was fined £250 under Article 7(2) of the same order for making a discharge of trade or sewage effluent into a waterway between May 18, 2023 and July 4, 2023.

Water pollution

The court was told that on May 18, 2023, a water quality inspector (WQI) acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of slurry being spread too close to a waterway at Coollane Road, Maguiresbridge.

The WQI examined the waterway and observed a growth of bacteria commonly known as sewage fungus on the bed of the waterway at the rear of farm premises.

On the farm, the inspector observed effluent discharging from a pipe and entering the waterway.

The inspector also reported discharge entering the watercourse on return visits to the farm on June 9 and June 16, 2023 during which time a tripartite statutory of the discharge was collected.

The discharge sample was dark in colour and had an odour of silage effluent.

It was found to contain poisonous, noxious or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway.

The NIEA said that effluents of this type cause the development of growth of bacteria (sewage fungus) on the bed of the watercourse which may lead to the destruction of fish spawning sites and impact the wider ecology of the waterway.

Further follow-up visits were undertaken by the WQI until July 4, 2023 to ensure that the discharge to the waterway had stopped.