Great News For Our Rivers
Landmark Decision reinforces " Polluter Pays" concept
Elliott Morley, Secretary of State for the Environment, has now ruled that major watercress producer and distributor, Hampshire-based Vitacress, must fund an Independent Environmental Assessment before
expanding its plant and washing facilities, which directly affect the Bourne River.
At present there is an almost total lack of river invertebrates -essential ingredients in the aquatic food chain - in the Bourne outlet channel used by Vitacress to dispose of this waste. As a result, very few fish are found there. The cause of this is unknown but invertebrates and fish alike thrive in the upper reaches of the Bourne, which are not affected by the Vitacress effluent
The Secretary of State's opinion that an EIA is required because the development would be likely to have significant adverse environmental effects reinforces the judicial review - instigated by local resident Peter Evans - which overturned expansion permission granted by local council Basingstoke and Deane. Before Vitacress can proceed with plans to expand by 60% over the next five years, it has to pay to find the cause of the unknown pollutants causing "significant damage" to the
river and to implement solutions.
Peter Evans states, "The EIA must address the inputs and outputs of the factory process in terms of water resources and discharges, and I hope the Environment Agency takes this opportunity to fully investigate the same matters as they relate to the intensive farming operations and the potential for diffuse pollution on the site."
The Salmon & Trout Association welcomes this decision to require an Environmental Impact Assessment. Executive Director, Paul Knight, concurs with the Secretary of State's opinion that the "proposed development would be likely to have significant effects on the environment because of its nature, size and location ..."
He concludes, "This decision sends a strong message to all levels of government across the country that, when existing operations are already causing significant damage, their expansion and intensification cannot proceed without an independent Environmental Impact Assessment. Proper precautionary measures are required to find the causes of the pollutants
and to implement solutions to protect sensitive aquatic environments and dependent species such as brown trout and grayling."