Press Release

Forestry owner to pay €10k for river pollution incident

Inland Fisheries Ireland(IFI) has prosecuted a forestry owner who must now pay a total of €10,000 for damage caused to a fish spawning habitat.

Mr Michael McHugh of Kilbride, Clonee, Co. Meath was prosecuted for allowing large volumes of silt to wash into the Cornavannogue River, at Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim.

Clearfelling and replanting had taken place on a site bordering the Cornavannogue River owned by Mr McHugh.

Insufficient mitigation measures were in place to control silt run-off at the 13.5-hectare forestry site which led to the water being contaminated. 

The Cornavannogue River with plumes of silt evident in it

The Cornavannogue River with plumes of silt evident in it

Dr Milton Matthews Director of IFI’s North Western River Basin District commented: “This pollution incident at a tributary of the River Erne was entirely avoidable. It represented a total disregard of best practice guidelines for forestry management.

“These guidelines are required for appropriate management of clearfelling and replanting of forestry sites located adjacent to a river, or other watercourse.

“IFI is committed to ensuring that appropriate forestry practices are fully adhered to, to protect and preserve Ireland’s fish stocks and aquatic habitats for future generations.”

Following reports of a pollution event IFI staff found sediment-laden water entering the Cornavannogue River from a nearby forestry site.

IFI Senior Environmental Officer Ailish Keane visited the location on January 9th 2023, and observed significant quantities of silt going into the water.

The case in relation to the incident was heard at Manorhamilton District Court on February 14th, 2024.

Mr McHugh was given the benefit of the Probation Act, and must give a voluntary contribution of €5,750 to Glenfarne Community Development Trust, along with costs of €4,250 for IFI.

Glenfarne Community Development Trust provides services and initiatives for the local Glenfarne community in Leitrim, and the money will be used to enhance and further develop the playground near the impacted river.

The funds will also cover the costs of information signs to promote environmental awareness of the area, detailing local flora, fauna and biodiversity by the Cornavannogue River catchment.

Members of the public are encouraged to report instances of such as this, along with illegal fishing, fish kills, or habitat destruction to Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential number, 0818 34 74 24.