THE political power of Angler’s Mail is helping put pressure on the under-fire Welsh ‘Environment Agency’.

As Angler’s Mail exclusively revealed in May, Natural Resources Wales, which took over from EA Wales in 2013, and less than 1 per cent of polluters were prosecuted in the next three years.

Now Mark Isherwood (pictured below), Member for North Wales for the Welsh Assembly is actively trying to change the effectiveness of NRW and has called for a Welsh Government statement on the protection of fisheries.

Mark told the Welsh Assembly: “Issues regarding the failure to protect fisheries were covered in the national angling paper, the Angler’s Mail.

“This highlighted a serious decline in fishing in Wales and said that between 2013 and 2016, only 60 per cent of pollution incidents were investigated, and there were just 41 prosecutions and ten civil sanctions, amounting to less than one per cent of incidents reported.

“Given the magazine’s reference to a meeting with officials of the Welsh Government in the article, could we have a statement to bring us up to date not only on what was concluded, but what actions, if any, have resulted?”

Mark Isherwood

The Leader of the House, Jane Hutt, told Mr Isherwood: “It would be helpful if you wrote to the Cabinet Secretary on this matter as her officials are already engaged in that discussion.”

Bob Vaughan, sustainable land manager for NRW said: “Tackling pollution in all its forms is a key part of what we do and we are working with organisations across the land management sector to create ways which will reduce the amount of pollution that gets into our waterways from all sources, including farms.

“It is misleading to say that less one per cent result in legal action – we have a range of enforcement options at our disposal and use these on a case-by-case basis.

“Of the incidents believed to be farm-related pollution 42.7 per cent are given formal warnings, 5.6 per cent are given cautions and a further 5.6 per cent (generally the most serious) result in court proceedings.

“Of the remainder, many are unsubstantiated or are so small that they cannot be proven or a source cannot be found.

“Coupled with our cost-recovery processes and serving SSAFO notices, warnings and cautions often provide a better environmental outcome than a prosecution and fine.

“In addition, we work with the land management sector to provide advice and guidance on best practice

“We are no different to any public sector organisation in that we have to work with reduced budgets and target our efforts where they will be most effective,” he concluded.

NRW gets recent pollution results

NATURAL RESOURCES WALES stopped a major pollution this spring when 450,000 litres of fish-killing slurry was largely contained.

A slurry lagoon near Abergavenny failed and discharged into a tributary of the River Honddu and fast action by NRW staff alongside Welsh Water dug temporary catch pits to catch as much escaping slurry as possible.

And earlier this month there was a successful prosecution of an agricultural polluter.

A Camarthen ‘super’ farm firm was hit with a court bill of almost £45,000 for pollution charges, which included slurry spilling into a nearby brook.

Cwrt Malle Ltd, which has 1,800 cows and a turnover of £6.3 million, pleaded guilty to five counts of polluting Fernhill Brook with slurry at Llanelli Magistrates.

District judge David Parsons fined Cwrt Malle Ltd a total of £36,000 and ordered the firm to pay costs of £8,500 and a victim surcharge of £120.

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