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Farmer Convicted and Ordered to Pay Over €5,000 for Polluting River With Silage Effluent

1st July 2022
Silage effluent discolouring the waters of the Annalee River
Silage effluent discolouring the waters of a stream feeding the Annalee River Credit: IFI

A farmer in Co Monaghan has been convicted of allowing silage effluent to enter a local river, following a prosecution taken by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Thomas McEnaney, from Ardragh in Carrickmacross, pleaded guilty to charges, was fined €400 and ordered to pay an additional €5,273.15 for costs and expenses.

Sitting at Carrickmacross District Court on 23 May, Judge Raymond Finnegan convicted McEnaney of a breach of the Fisheries Acts for allowing silage effluent to enter a watercourse.

Ailish Keane, a senior fisheries environmental officer with IFI, gave evidence that the silage pit was not fit for purpose when it was inspected, as effluent — which is a highly toxic substance — was escaping through a surface water system and into an open watercourse.

According to water samples taken by IFI, the silage effluent from McEnaney’s property subsequently polluted a tributary of the Annalee River, an important watercourse for brown trout angling in the Erne River catchment.

Following the conviction, IFI is appealing to the farming and agricultural community to ensure that silage pits are fit for purpose and are regularly checked whilst in use to prevent accidental runoff to rivers and lakes.

Dr Milton Matthews, director of the North West River Basin District with IFI said: “Good water quality status in our rivers and lakes is vital for the preservation of healthy fish stocks and the aquatic habitat.

“Silage effluent is a highly polluting substance which can have severe and long-term impacts to aquatic ecosystems due to de-oxygenation and nutrient enrichment. Streams, rivers and lakes are particularly prone to any silage effluent discharges which may occur during the summer months when water levels are low which can result in major fish kill events.

“Regular inspection and maintenance of silage pits and slurry storage facilities is essential to ensure that accidental leaks or overflows are prevented.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland are appealing to the farming and agricultural community to ensure that silage pits are fit for purpose and are regularly inspected and maintained to ensure Ireland’s water quality, fisheries and aquatic biodiversity are protected.”

Published in Angling Team

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