A Co. Tyrone farm business has been fined in court for water pollution.

Hillside Dairy Farms Ltd., Camderry Road, Dromore, Co. Tyrone was fined a total of £5,000 plus £15 Offenders Levy at Omagh Magistrates’ Court.

The waterway impacted was an unnamed tributary of the Owenreagh River in Northern Ireland. The waterway was impacted for a distance of 1km.

Fined for water pollution

Hillside Dairy Farms Ltd. was fined and charged under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 for the offence of making a polluting discharge to a waterway on October 21, 2022 and also for making a discharge of trade or sewage effluent into a waterway between November 4, 2022 and January 25, 2023.

The court heard that on October 21, 2022, water quality inspectors (WQIs) acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responded to a report of pollution.

Inspectors examined the waterway where it crossed the Kildrum Road, Dromore. Sewage fungus was observed covering the bed of the waterway; the pollution was traced to a discharge from the direction of Hillside Farm.

On the farm the inspectors discovered that effluent with the appearance of silage effluent was discharging to the waterway via a storm manhole on the farm.

During the follow-up visits in November 2022, the waterway was observed to be grossly polluted.

This continued until the necessary repairs were made to the diverter system on the farm; this work was completed during January 2023.

A tripartite statutory sample was collected on October 21, 2022. The sample was dark in colour and had an odour of silage effluent.

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

Effluents of this nature enrich fungus coverage on the bed of the watercourse which may lead to the destruction of fish spawning sites, as well as starving river invertebrates, on which fish feed, of oxygen, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).