Fish Legal wins £7,000 settlement for farm slurry pollution of the River Irvine

Fish Legal is delighted to have won over £7,137 for one of its Scottish member clubs, the Darvel Angling Club, following a slurry spill from Bransfield Farm at Priestland in Ayrshire that saw a serious fish kill on the Gower Water and the River Irvine in 2006.

The incident occurred on 5th November 2006 and, according to SEPA investigating officers, an estimated 50,000 litres of very liquid farm slurry escaped during a slurry-spreading operation and for 15 minutes poured into the nearby watercourses.  The sheer volume of slurry swamped a culvert and was partially diverted into a roadside ditch which led to the Gower Water at Bransfield Bridge.  A portion of the effluent also entered the Priestland Burn to discharge into the River Irvine 100m upstream of its confluence with the Gower Water.

Hen and cock salmon, sea trout, adult brown trout and thousands of salmon fry were all found dead on the stretches of the river Irvine leased by the Darvel Angling Club, with electro-fishing surveys carried out by SEPA immediately after the event finding no surviving fish at all downstream of the point at which the slurry entered the Gower Water.

Guy Linley-Adams, Head of Legal at Fish Legal, said: “We are very pleased with the result of this case which will allow the club to restore the affected waters.  Fish Legal was helped enormously by the baseline ecological and fisheries data provided by the Ayrshire Rivers Trust and we are grateful to them.  Consistent survey work carried out prior to the pollution allowed us to clearly show the overwhelming effect that such a sudden input of ammonia rich slurry had on the burn and the main river.  A whole generation of juvenile trout and salmon were wiped out in an instant”.

Mr Linley-Adams added: “The 2006 incident underlines the need for farmers, their contractors and employees to take the utmost care when carrying out farm operations that can have such a devastating effect, not just on a small section of a river, but on fish populations in the entire river system for many years to come”.

Darvel Angling Club Secretary Billy Galbraith added: “We are most grateful to Fish Legal for all their hard work in achieving this compensation for our club. We hope it will send out a powerful message that our watercourses must be respected”.