I was just in the door this evening when I received a call from two Irvine Bailiffs concerned about pollution they had found on the Hag Burn near Galston. They had called SEPA at 4.30pm but were told that someone would try to attend tomorrow. They didn’t feel this was good enough so called the Trust.

The discharge doesn't look like a large volume at the moment but the impact downstream is huge.

The discharge doesn’t look like a large volume at the moment but the impact downstream is huge.

My daughter and I jumped into the van and off we went to Galston. Sure enough there was pollution in the burn and quite horrific it was too. We walked from the road upstream until we met the bailiffs and then continued to the source… a pipe at the back of a farm steading. I suspect that silage effluent is responsible and will be contacting SEPA first thing in the morning requesting someone attends.  When I see a pipe discharge causing such devastating pollution, I am inclined to believe this is a deliberate action rather than an accident. There can’t be a farmer in the land who doesn’t know the requirements for dealing properly with silage liquor and other liquid products/wastes.

The impact on the burn some distance downstream. The smell was strong along the length of affected burn.

The impact on the burn some distance downstream. The smell was strong along the length of affected burn.

This hasn’t just happened in the last day or so, this has been going on for some time and consequently we didn’t find any dead fish. I did look for fish and didn’t see any apart from near the main river about a mile downstream. The bailiffs informed me that the same farm has been responsible for pollution before. We have been looking to improve fish passage on this burn and have a meeting arranged with a fish pass consultant on Monday. Brian Shaw previously recorded occasional salmon as far upstream as the source of the pollution. We had planned to electrofish this burn this year and still will. I don’t however expect a good result below the pollution source.

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6 Responses to Pollution on the Hag Burn, Irvine catchment.

  1. Skeffles says:

    Why is it always the Irvine that lets the side down?

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      I’ve reported a similar incident on the Ayr today and just heard of another on the Lugar. The Irvine isn’t alone. It’s a shame that some farmers are so lax and that SEPA are reluctant to prosecute anyone! I feel they should take someone to court over this and that would set an example. I bet pollution would reduce if the fines were severe.

      • tony says:

        It makes my blood boil when incompetent farmers just don,t comply too the law, where was pollution on the lugar stuart?

        • Stuart Brabbs says:

          I know what you mean I get even more frustrated by the regulators policy of non prosecution for incidents such as these. Every angler that speaks to me on this subject is highly critical of the system at present. I’m sure they are all in favour of a few prosecutions (where there has been serious negligence or wilful pollution) to send a clear message to those responsible. Incidents such as this may have wiped out several year classes of fish over a considerable length of burn. No wonder our salmon and trout numbers are a fraction of what they could be.
          The pollution on the Lugar is apparently near Ochiltree. I haven’t checked this out yet.

          • Skeffles says:

            I don’t know whether this is any use or not, but have you considered contacting the guys behind http://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/ ? They have pretty much the same problem (albeit with the avian wildlife and not piscine wildlife), landowners doing as they please and decimating the avian population, with the law being incredibly half-hearted about prosecutions. They are running some awareness campaigns, and might have some advice on how to combat the problem, or even contribute to a wider picture of wildlife crime within Scotland.

            There does seem to be problem in our society at the moment with what should be a countryside booming with fish and birds, but instead being horribly devoid of them.

          • Stuart Brabbs says:

            We do communicate with the wildlife crime officer and may seek his opinion on this. Good point, well made. Thanks