Caught by the River

ACA News

19th August 2008

ACA News Update

Two tragic pollutions on the River Wye have been reported in the past couple of weeks. The first of these occurred on an upper river tributary, the Rhyd Hir Brook, and caused the death of nearly 1,000 juvenile salmon and trout. Meanwhile, lower down the system, more than 20,000 fish were killed in a 10km stretch of the river Trothy, a tributary that enters the Wye below Monmouth, including bullhead, brown trout, minnow, lamprey and eel. The Environment Agency has been carrying out investigations and has yet to release any findings, but at this stage the finger of suspicion is pointing at agricultural pollution in both cases. The ACA is waiting to hear the results.

In other news, the ACA is acting for three clubs following the chemical pollution of the River Ellen in Cumbria at the end of June which killed over 4,000 fish. The Agency has identified the polluter but cannot disclose details until their investigations are complete. This pollution has been especially distressing for the River Ellen Angling Club who bought their stretch of water with the proceeds from an ACA civil claim for a previous milk pollution.

We are also looking into the use of alpha-cypermethrin and cypermethrin chemicals – similar to those used in sheep dip – in forestry. Information requests have been made to the Pesticides Safety Directorate and to the EA to gather eco-toxicology reports and details of any specific, acute pollution incidents.

On Wednesday last week, the ACA attended a meeting with the Environment Agency and representatives from the Brennand and Whitendale Focus Group in Preston, Lancashire, to look at why, after 8 years of consultation and planning, a scheme to alleviate the over-abstraction of two rivers in the upper Ribble catchment had been shelved at the 11th hour. Both the Brennand and Whitendale are important salmonid spawning and nursery rivers, which have been reduced to stagnant pools during drier months as a result of the over-abstraction, leaving thousands of fry, parr and smolts stranded. The River Dunsop, which forms after the Brennand and Whitendale converge, also is adversely affected by the over-abstraction. Plans for moderation of the abstraction have been developed in great detail over the past 8 years by the water company (United Utilities) with the help of a very patient focus group mainly comprising representatives of local riparian owners, anglers and other interested parties. It seems that the government has not made the funds available to the Agency to pay the necessary compensation to water companies for taking less water to protect the environment. This example calls into question the effectiveness of the Agency’s ‘Restoring Sustainable Abstraction’ programme and whether the Water Framework Directive can realistically be implemented. The ACA is now looking into what legal options are available and will be campaigning for a reversal of this decision.

On a happier note, our sincere thanks to all who took part in our 60th Anniversary Auction: to the kind donors of lots and to those who bid so generously for them. We managed to raise more than £11,000 for the fighting fund.

Best wishes from the ACA.