Water Company Pays Lancashire Angling Club £30,000 In Damages
United Utilities has agreed to pay the Rochdale & District Angling Society (RDAS) £30,000 in compensation after causing a series of flooding incidents dating back to 2003, which damaged The Lodges fishery. RDAS, who have owned the fishing rights at The Lodges since 1971, asked the Anglers' Conservation Association
(ACA) to act on their behalf after being frustrated by a lack of interest from the Environment Agency and continued denials of wrong-doing from the utility.
Chlorinated water had been frequently pumped out of poorly maintained overflow pipes from the company's Buersil reservoir, down a hill and into the five pools that make up the fishery. The resultant flooding caused species such as carp, tench, rudd, roach, perch and trout to be washed into the nearby river and, on occasions, left them stranded and dying on the banks of the fishery. The flooding also eroded the hillside, dumping several tonnes of silt in the pools. The £30,000 will go towards restocking fish and dredging work to return the fishery to its previous state.
Bob Smith, the Fishery Manager at The Lodges, emphasised the importance of the fishery to local members: "Recently, we've encouraged kids to join the club as juniors. They took to the fishing so well that they even formed their own committee. The club members spent many hours working on the pools and the land around them, stocking with fish, planting trees and marginal or aquatic plants and making The Lodges a good habitat for wildlife." "Every time we rang United Utilities to see what had happened, they'd always say they'd look into it and we wouldn't hear anything again" he added. "At last, it now looks like the pollution will stop and we can get to work again on the fishery's habitat and ecosystem and, hopefully, we'll be able to see some improvements."
Dr Justin Neal, solicitor at the ACA commented: "When negotiations failed and United Utilities refused to accept liability or to provide documents relating to the maintenance of the reservoir - which, according to the utility, may have been destroyed - court proceedings were issued. Finally, the company agreed to settle the claim out of court, paying damages to the club towards dredging, restocking and habitat restoration. Importantly, United Utilities told the ACA that improvements had been made to the telemetry system at the reservoir - but it looks like it took the threat of a trial to commit them to the changes."
Mark Lloyd, Executive Director of the ACA said: "Some of the worst of the flooding from Buersil Reservoir happened in June 2006, a year in which many households in Lancashire were subject to a hosepipe ban and rivers in the North West were reduced to a trickle. I think everyone would expect water companies to be more responsible with such a precious resource, particularly in times of drought."
Tom Meyrick, Honorable Secretary of the RDAS added: "I would like to express our thanks to the ACA and, in particular, Justin Neal for the effort and hard work he has put in on our Society's behalf. Becoming members of the ACA is the best move we have made and I would urge all angling clubs to join them."
The ACA is currently fighting three other cases on behalf of its members against United Utilities, in Cheshire, Cumbria and Wale