A DUP Assemblyman has blamed an “unfortunate mistake” for a pollution offence on his farm.
Newry and South Armagh MLA William Irwin was fined £750 last week for a “polluting discharge” into a waterway 11 months ago.
The prosecution was taken by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, a wing of the Department of the Environment headed by DUP Minister Sammy Wilson.
The offence was detected by a water quality inspector on February 11, last year.
A DoE press release said a “heavy fungus growth” caused by farm effluent was discovered at an unnamed tributary of the River Tall in Co Armagh.
“The source of the polluting discharge was traced to a farm owned by Mr Irwin,” the department said.
“A sample taken at the time of the incident confirmed that the discharge contained poisonous, noxious and polluting matter which would have been potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving watercourse.”
Mr Irwin lives in the Richhill area of Co Armagh and is a dairy farmer. He is a member of the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, which oversees farming issues in Northern Ireland.
In a statement issued last night, he said: “This case demonstrates the effectiveness of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, which was established by a DUP minister last year.
“It involved an unfortunate mistake on the farm. Remedial action has been taken and was in the course of being taken prior to the incident.
“Effective measures are now firmly in place to make sure it will not happen again. I am totally committed to sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming."
The £750 fine was imposed at Armagh Magistrates Court.