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Dismay over peat slippage ‘environmental catastrophe’ in Co Donegal

Incredible footage of a massive landslide in Co Donegal has caused dismay, given the impact of the peat slippage on an important fishing river in neighbouring Co Tyrone.

Trees and the ground beneath were sent coursing downhill in a landslide on bog land near Ballybofey last week.

It happened at Meenbog Wind Farm where a controversial development of 19 turbines is under construction.

Objectors had feared a pollution incident could occur.

Now, thousands of tonnes of peat and debris have cut a swathe through the landscape and into a stream that feeds into the Mournebeg River, which is part of the Foyle River system.

It turned the waters – an important breeding ground for salmon and trout – black.

“It’s catastrophic. I think the Mournebeg River has probably been wiped out,” Gary Irvine, from Derg Valley Community Angling Club, told UTV.

“The spawning beds are gone, probably the fish and invertebrate life are gone.

“It could take years for that river ever to recover.”

Local fish farmer Bryan Johnson breeds tens of thousands of rainbow trout just downstream.

“I can’t begin to assess where the damage is and how we’ll get through this,” he said, describing the battle to minimise the impact of the polluted water pouring into his ponds.

The wind farm development, owned by Invis Energy, was given the go-ahead by the Republic of Ireland’s planning appeals body.

In a statement, the owners confirmed the slippage and said it poses no threat to public health, adding that they are working with authorities to address the matter.

However, there are demands from both sides of the border for a full investigation.

The cross-border Loughs Agency is looking into what happened, but it is feared it could take many days before the full extent of any damage emerges.