7 September 2000
Farmers anger at water company ban

Farmers anger at water company ban

FARMERS in Northern Ireland are furious that a water company has banned sheep from 5000 acres of its land, reports the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

In March the Northern Ireland Water Service told producers to clear their flocks from the water catchment area high in the Mourne Mountains.

This area provides water for the two main reservoirs which supply Belfast.

The action was taken because of fears that the cryptosporidium parasite, found in sheep droppings, could make its way into the water system.

Eighty cases of cryptosporidium have been confirmed in Northern Ireland recently, although these were not related to sheep.

But having assured farmers the removal was a temporary measure, the Water Board has now said the ban will last at least three years, until a filtration system can be installed.

Farmers say if their sheep are kept off the hill for that length of time thousands will have to be sold.

There have been reports of farmers who are running short of grazing throwing down part of the Mourne Wall, which surrounds the catchment area, and letting sheep in.

But the Water Service has warned it will send in drovers with dogs if farmers do not remove their sheep.