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THE Angling Trust’s legal arm Fish Legal are threatening to prosecute a factory for an angling club after being dismayed at the response from the Environment Agency.


The EA have been slammed for not prosecuting the factory for the fish kills at the Todmorden AS run Grove Lodge in West Yorkshire despite another agency taking them to court on other charges.

And the EA have been hugely criticised for failing to bring oxygenating equipment with them as requested by local anglers when the incident occurred in the first place.

Back in May, 2012, a series of explosions and fires at a nearby factory led to a serious chemical pollution killing hundreds of fish including prime carp.

When fish started gasping for air, the club reported it immediately to the EA and asked them to bring aerators with them but, for reasons which remain unclear, the EA delayed and insisted on visiting the site first to make their own assessment.

On arrival, the EA agreed that the oxygen level was dangerously low -16 per cent when it should have been around 75 per cent – and only then made arrangements for aerators to be deployed, wasting several hours and hundreds of fish perished.

To add insult to injury, the EA refused to undertake a fish kill assessment despite being pressed on the obvious need to properly assess the damage caused to fish stocks.

When challenged by Fish Legal about this, various different reasons were given and further requests for a full and credible explanation were at first deferred and then later, refused.

Despite confirming that the pollution was a Category 2 incident, which means it has a significant impact on the environment, and confirming the pollution had “caused significant fish mortality” including an offence under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, the EA decided to serve the polluter with only a formal warning letter.

Yet the polluter was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive for two breaches, and were fined £5,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £6,000 at Trafford Magistrates Court in February, 2014.

Will Rundle, Fish Legal head solicitor, said: “Unlike the EA in this case, Fish Legal will battle on to try and help Todmorden AS, and is committed to taking the polluter to court if necessary, to recover compensation for the club to restore its fishery.

“This is yet another example of EA failures when responding to pollution killing wildlife. In this case they failed to take timely action to protect the environment and punish offenders.

“We recently exposed serious failures within the Agency in its management of its pollution response function, which highlighted delay, inconsistency, and a failure to follow its own guidelines. It begs the question whether the EA is fit for purpose.”

 

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