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

Mr Thomas McEnaney, a farmer from Ardragh in Carrickmacross who pleaded guilty to charges, was fined €400 and ordered to pay an additional €5,273.15 for costs and expenses at a sitting of Carrickmacross District Court on 23 May 2022.

Judge Raymond Finnegan convicted Mr McEnaney of a breach of the Fisheries Acts for allowing silage effluent to enter a watercourse.

Ailish Keane, a senior fisheries environmental officer with Inland Fisheries Ireland, 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.

The silage effluent from Mr McEnaney’s property subsequently polluted a tributary of the Annalee River in the Erne River catchment, according to water samples taken by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Fit for purpose

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

Dr Milton Matthews, director of the northwest river basin district with Inland Fisheries Ireland, said that 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,” he said.

Members of the public who wish to report suspected cases of water pollution are encouraged to telephone Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential hotline, which is 0818-34 74 24. The 24-hour hotline is open seven days a week.