Three Coleraine farmers were convicted at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Friday (September 7) for causing two separate discharges of silage effluent to enter a waterway.

The Londonderry brothers David, Hugh and James Conn of Barmouth Road, Castlerock, Coleraine were fined a total of £2,200 plus the £15 Offender's Levy each.

Water Quality Inspectors acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency responded to a report of pollution affecting an unnamed tributary of the Articlave River on September 14, 2016.

The investigation

The Inspectors discovered an open field drain was overgrown, making it difficult to carry out a thorough inspection.

During a further visit on October 24, 2016, the inspectors observed a discharge in the open field drain and advised the brothers of a return visit the following month.

Approximately one month later, as agreed, the inspectors examined an unnamed tributary of the Articlave River.

During the farmyard examination, the inspectors observed a concrete pipe discharging a dark green-brown liquid into an open field drain.

Further down the stream, another violation was observed as an orange pipe expelled a similar coloured liquid.

The tributary was one of the many waterways leading to the Articlave River and as a result of the effluent, a grey fungus was observed impacting the waterway for several hundred meters.

Toxic discharge

In accordance with water quality inspection procedures, a sample of the discharge was taken from the concrete pipe and another sample was taken from the discharge from the orange pipe.

After rigorous testing it was confirmed that the discharge contained poisonous, noxious or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway.

Anyone wishing to report a pollution incident in Northern Ireland can call the 24-hour Water Pollution Hotline on: 0800-807060.