Landowner fined for damaging protected habitat

A landowner has been fined £3,400 (€3,990) recently at Newry Magistrates’ court for breaches of Environment Order legislation.

The Co. Armagh man, Derek Johnston of 82D Carrickastricken Road, Forkhill was fined for damaging protect habitat.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency officers inspected a site owned by Johnston on five different occasions between October 5, 2012, and July 15, 2014.

The site is located within the Slieve Gullion Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and the Slieve Gullion Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

On each occasion unauthorised works were observed by the officers, which resulted in substantial damage to the protected habitat.

Burning, spraying and mechanical removal of vegetation caused the destruction of 12.5ha of priority Dry Heath habitat on land owned by Johnston.

The loss of habitat occurred within a scenic landscape of the Ring of Gullion in Co. Armagh, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Farmer handed suspended jail sentence

At a recent sitting of Craigavon Magistrates’ Court a Co. Armagh farmer was handed a suspended jail sentence for animal movement offences.

Jim Thompson, of Plantation Road, Portadown, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty to all 21 of the charges brought against him.

These included one charge of removing ear tags from bovine animals and one charge of failing to present a herd register.

He also pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to notify the Department of Agriculture of the movement of two animals onto his holding as well as three charges of failing to have three animals TSE tested within 24 hours of death.

The remaining 14 charges were in relation to knowingly or recklessly providing false information on movement notifications to the Department.

Thompson received a three month jail sentence for each charge to run concurrently, which has been suspended for three years.

These offences came to light as a result of a Cattle Identification Inspection carried out by the Veterinary Service Enforcement Branch.