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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


British Waterways Mutualisation May Lead to Environmental Secrecy

We anglers need to know at all times what the BWB are doing ref the water environment. Its through the BWB that parts of the River Kennet are of poor water quality and little weed. As per usual the boaters always win. Also why should they be given charity status.At least the AT are trying to protect our waters.

The Angling Trust is alarmed by indications from the Government that British Waterways (BW) may not be subject to the Environmental Information Regulations (2004) when it becomes a charity in 2012. BW is currently regarded as a "public authority" under the regulations, which require it to provide information to the public about the impact of its activities on the environment. Responses to parliamentary questions about the issue have been extremely ambiguous.

BW controls 3,000 kilometres of canal and rivers and has diverse operations which include dredging, water abstraction and the operation of tidal barrages. These have great potential to damage the water environment. Angling's representative body stressed the need for the new third sector organisation to be obliged to provide environmental information.

The Angling Trust, including its legal arm Fish Legal, often requires this information in order to represent its members when fish stocks are damaged by the activities of public authorities. Fish Legal is currently fighting to get the privatised water companies in England and Wales to be subject to the Environmental Information Regulations after the Upper Tribunal ruled last year that they were not "public authorities".

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust said: "The water environment is precious to tens of millions of people in this country. Any large organisation which has activities which could affect the water quality, quantity and ecological status of the country's arteries should be accountable to the public. Anglers in particular need to know that they will be able to call organisations which impact on their fishing rights to account."

Martin James Fishing