ACA News Update
It's been a very busy summer here at the ACA; we've had trouble fitting in any fishing at all. Here's a run-down of the latest news from the legal department.
Taf Fechan, Mid Glamorgan
Another case against United Utilities, our 4th in the past 12 months, has been settled with the water company agreeing to pay Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association £25,000 in compensation following a pollution of the River Taf Fechan in Mid Glamorgan. In August 2006, a large quantity of aluminium sulphate was flushed into the river from the Pontsticill Water Treatment Works, which UU operate on behalf of Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water. The pollution turned the water white for at least 5km downstream of the works and killed approximately 23,000 fish, including wild brown trout, bullheads, stickleback and pike, as well as wiping out uncountable numbers of invertebrates.
For 6 years before the pollution MTAA had worked hard to improve the river, investing money and volunteer labour to improve the habitat. In 2004 the club's Taf Fechan project was 2nd place in the Wild Trout Trust's prestigious conservation awards. By the time of the pollution numbers of wild Brown Trout had increased significantly to a level where anglers from all over the country and overseas came to fish. The fishery was described as 'the jewel in the crown' of the club's fishing. According to the EAW, it is estimated that the river will take between 6 and 12 years to recover.
The Environment Agency Wales (EAW) successfully brought criminal prosecutions of both UU and Welsh Water in September 2007. They were fined a derisory £16,500 in total and ordered to pay costs of just over £4,000 to EAW. Although Welsh Water paid £22,000 towards restocking in June 2007, MTAA asked the ACA to bring a civil claim on its behalf against UU for loss of amenity. UU admitted liability and this week agreed to compensate the club with a further £25,000 before the case went to trial.
River Dyfi, Powys
Following an investigation by the ACA into the conduct of trackside embankment works alongside and indeed on the bed of the River Dyfi near Machynlleth, the ACA issued pre-action disclosure proceedings against Network Rail. The works involved the temporary diversion of the river but has meant the loss of key pools in an old meander loop in the river. Subsequent to the disclosure proceedings, Network Rail made an offer, albeit without admission of liability, of £10,000 to the New Dovey Fisheries Association and has undertaken to consult more fully with the NDFA on any future railway-related works along the Dyfi.
River Exe, Devon
The ACA has taken up a case on the River Exe in Devon after Exeter City Council left sluice gates open at Trews Weir in July of this year. The gates were only supposed to be opened for planned one-day works but were accidentally left open for a further 10 days, effectively stopping salmon migrating upstream. The claim is on behalf of the River Exe and Tributaries Association and the River Exe Foundation.
Faringdon Estate, Oxfordshire
The ACA is investigating repeated sewage pollution incidents on the Faringdon Estate in Oxfordshire. Following periods of heavy rainfall, foul water from the mains sewer, which passes under the estate grounds, has been entering the fishing lake via a blown manhole cover and has so far killed 60 carp. Thames Water has carried out a number of investigative procedures in order to identify the cause of the continued pollution but the problems continue.
River Eamont, Cumbria
We have finally secured a trial date for our appeal against United Utilities for pollution of the River Eamont: Monday 5th January 2009. While you are nursing your New Year hangover, spare a thought for our legal team who will be fighting the good fight in Cumbria. We are determined not to lose this important case, which went against us in the first round.
The ACA in Scotland has referred SEPA to the Scottish Information Commissioner for its failure to disclose SEPA and third party witness statements. The complaint relates to a spillage from Scottish Water's Allers Sewage Treatment Works on the Rotten Calder (a tributary of the River Clyde) which killed many hundreds of fish, including trout and juvenile salmon, on waters fished by the East Kilbride Angling Club. A claim has been submitted to Scottish Water.