Northern Ireland Water compensates angling club after devastating pollution
Northern Ireland Water has paid £8,500 in compensation to the Ballynure Angling Club as a result of a claim made on the club’s behalf by Fish Legal following a devastating pollution on the Six Mile Water in 2011.
An assessment carried out by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), following reports by the public of thousands of dead fish in the river, found large amounts of sewage fungus downstream of the Ballyclare Waste Water Treatment Works in late January 2011.
It is believed that over 2.8km of the river was affected by the pollution incident and the fish involved included salmon, wild brown trout and dollaghan (migratory trout running up from Lough Neagh).
Northern Ireland Water admitted in a statement given to the NIEA as part of their investigation that there were failures in the control systems, valves and associated pipework at the works at the time. However, despite these failures, the significant fish kill and damage to the river, the company was only issued with a warning letter for discharging "poisonous, noxious or polluting matter" outside of their consent conditions, and there was no prosecution.
Penelope Gane, lawyer at Fish Legal, commented: “I am pleased to see that, despite a long wait, our member club has now been compensated for the damage caused to their fishery in 2011. This claim highlights the importance of Fish Legal’s ability to act on behalf of angling clubs in situations where the regulator does not prosecute a polluter.
"This river has been badly affected by repeat pollutions, with water quality downstream of the Ballyclare Waste Water Treatment Works being a particular concern for our member club. Hopefully, this claim will encourage Northern Ireland Water to invest in this particular treatment works to prevent this happening again.”
The club’s Chairman, William Robinson, welcomed the settlement and commented: “The club purchased the angling rights of the upper stretch of the Six Mile Water river in 1990. This area includes some very important spawning and nursery habitat. Since then the club has worked very hard on improving the habitat and water quality, working closely with other angling clubs, river trusts, landowners and local government departments.
"Fish Legal has been an extremely important part of this ongoing improvement process giving advice and representing the club on a range of issues from industrial, commercial and domestic planning applications impacting the river corridor to pollution incidents."
He added: “On behalf of Ballynure Angling Club I would like to extend our thanks to the team at Fish Legal for tenaciously pursuing this incident to a successful conclusion, without which we would not have seen Northern Ireland Water held to account for this devastating pollution and the impact it has had on the river."
Notes for Editors
- Fish Legal is a membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK. It is united in a collaborative relationship with the Angling Trust, the representative body for angling in England and Wales. Joint membership packages with the Angling Trust are available for individuals, clubs, fisheries and other categories.
- The Ballynure Angling Club (BAC) was formed in 1972 with 24 members and 12 juniors and is affiliated to the Ulster Angling Federation. The club has grown over the years and now has limited ordinary membership of 100 members, with honorary members and juniors the total membership is about 150.
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- Picture shows dollaghan trout of 10.6lbs caught and released back into the Six Mile Water.