LUSTY Beg Island has been fined £15,000 for causing pollution to Lower Lough Erne, potentially endangering local fish populations.
At Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday, the resort, under the name Fermanagh Properties Limited, pleaded guilty to polluting a waterway and two counts of discharging effluent into a waterway. During a visit on July 21, 2016 water inspectors noticed a small inlet and shoreline on the island appeared badly polluted. It was grey in colour and smelled of detergents.
The inspectors then returned in August, November and February, speaking to management about the issue, but said each time the discharge was continuing. They said it was having a noticeable impact on the shoreline and surrounding parts of the lough.
The inspectors returned on May 4 this year, finding the pollution was still happening. This time they spoke to a member of the board who said they’d been unaware of the issue. When the inspectors returned in June this year, the pollution was still happening.
Samples taken showed the effluent was poisonous and noxious, and was hazardous aquatic life.
Defence solicitor Barry Lynam said the inspectors had initially spoke to management at the resort, who were not in a position to deal with it. He said once the problem was brought to the attention of the board it was resolved, and the company had employed the assistance of outside experts, at significant expense, to ensure the issue didn’t happen again.
Mr Lynam told the court the problem had been caused by a broken pipe. District Judge Nigel Broderick said he could understand a broken pipe, but said from the photos he’d seen it looked like there had been a dedicated pipe going into the lough. The solicitor stressed it’s environmental impact was very important to the company, which employs around 160 people. Mr Lynam pointed out it was significant that there had been no reported fish kill as a result of the discharge.
In sentencing, Judge Broderick took this into account, as well as the fact the issue had now been resolved, but said it had been happening for a significant amount of time.
Stressing how important it was to protect the lough’s environment and eco-system, Judge Broderick fined Lusty Beg £5,000 on each of the three counts. The company have indicated they are to appeal the sentence.
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition