Cookstown farmer fined for pollution of river

Dungannon Courthouse TT0509-JS112
Dungannon Courthouse TT0509-JS112

A Cookstown man has been fined for pollution of a waterway at East Tyrone Magistrates Court.

William Potter, 76, of Annaghquin Road pleaded guilty to the offence in relation to an incident which occurred on December 3, 2013.

A Court heard how on December 3 an enforcement officer from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) took a sample from the river and noticed a green coloured liquid in the river.

The substance was traced to the defendant’s laneway and tests confirmed that it contained high levels of chemical, sixty times greater than the levels the waterway should be at.

The court heard that it was unclear if there were any fish killed as a result of the chemical.

A defence solicitor for Mr Potter told the court that at the time of the pollution incident construction work was ongoing at Mr Potter’s farm.

He said work was underway to replace the sewage tanks at the farm and replace them with new ones. During the construction process a digger is said to have hit the pipe carrying dirty water away from the farm causing it to flow into the waterway.

The solicitor said his client was unaware that this had occurred or that there was any sort of damage caused until he was made aware of it by the NIEA.

He also informed the court that the old pipes had been in place for over 40 years and no previous incidents of pollution had occurred and that since the new pipes were installed there have been no other incidents since.

The defence solicitor informed the court that this was an isolated incident caused by maintenance work at the farm.

He said that during the investigation a full check of the entire farm was carried out and everything was found to be up to standard.

The solicitor also told the court that Mr Potter as a result of this incident has already lost £1300 from his single farm payment.

District Judge John Meehan imposed a fine of £1000 for the incident and also ordered Mr Potter to pay a further £15 offender levy to the court.