A farmer from Magherafelt, Co. Derry, was today fined £750 for polluting part of the Moyola River with silage effluent.

Eric Scott Thom, 54, from Quarry Road, Magherafelt, was also fined a £15 offenders levy, after the judgement was passed down at the magistrates’ court in the town.

According to Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the case dated from June 23, 2017, when a water quality inspector from the environment agency examined a tributary of the Grange Water, which joins to the Moyola River in the county.

The inspector noticed a grey fungus on the bed of the tributary, as well as a strong odour of silage, according to DAERA.

The inspector found silage effluent flowing from an open field drain, which itself was covered in fungus.

Upon examining the farm, the inspector discovered silage effluent flowing down an embankment into the drain – as well as a black drainpipe discharging effluent into it.

The effluent had a strong, noticeable smell, and was yellow to orange in colour.

Further study of the water showed that the rate of effluent discharge was about 2L/minute.

Investigators said they discovered poisonous, noxious or polluting matter in the water, which would have been potentially harmful to fish life in the effected waterway.

According to DAERA, silage effluent results in fungus growth on the water bed, which has a number of effects; fish spawning site may be destroyed, and invertebrates, which fish feed on, would be starved of oxygen.