AN AYRSHIRE farm which allowed 50,000 litres of slurry to escape into the River Irvine and one of its most prolific  tributaries, has paid more than £7100 in damages to a Darvel Angling Club for killing thousands of fish and wiping out its juvenile stocks.

River Irvine: thousands of fish killed
River Irvine: thousands of fish killed

Adult salmon and juvenile fry, sea and brown trout were all found dead on stretches of the River Irvine following a survey by the environmental protection agency, SEPA. No live fish at all were found in the Gower Water downstream of the incident.

The settlement by Bransfield Fram at Priestland follows a claim by Fish Legal, the former Anglers’ Conservation Association, on behalf of Darvel Angling Club which leases fishing on the rivers.

Guy Linley-Adams, head of the Fish Legal team of lawyers, said yesterday: “The ammonia-rich slurry wiped out a whole generation of juvenile trout and salmon in an instant. We are very pleased with the result of this case which will allow the club to restore stocks in the affected waters.”

He said the incident, which took place in November 2006, underlined the need for farmers, contractors and employees “to take the utmost care when carrying out farm operations that can have such a devastating effect.”

A survey by the Ayrshire Rivers Trust in 2005 had counted 143 salmon and trout in a single 25 metre stretch of the Gower Water making it one of the most productive tributaries in the Irvine catchment.

Billy Galbraith secretary of the 106-year-old Darvel  club added: “We hope it will send out a powerful message that our watercourses must be respected.”

The owner of Bransfield Farm was also fined £1000 at Irvine Sheriff Court in September 2007 for the incident.

Fish Legal has already won more than 2000 UK cases and recovered millions of pounds in damages which is fed back into angling and the protection of inland waters. It won a settlement of £4000 from Scottish Water in February for an incident in Lanarkshire and is currently pursing more than a dozen cases in Scotland.

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