THE Welsh equivalent of the Environment Agency has been branded ‘no longer fit for purpose’ in a stinging attack by fishing and environmental groups.

Natural Resources Wales was formed in 2013, by merging the EA, Countryside Council for Wales and the Forestry Commission, and one of its main duties is to protect the health of rivers.

But figures show that of the 6,886 reports of water pollution the NRW received between 2013 and 2016, only 60 per cent were investigated. And there were just 41 prosecutions and ten civil sanctions… amounting to less than 1 per cent of incidents reported.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, said: “There has been a steep decline in fish numbers in recent years in Wales.

“As an example one club in West Wales reported that only one fish had been caught in an entire season and many members have given up.

“The regulator needs to take a much tougher stance but does not have the resources to investigate properly.

“They’ve lost a lot of their frontline staff and are unable to take concerted action.

“The organisation is unwieldy, too bureaucratic and they don’t seem to have a strategy – I just think they’re failing in their duty.

“We are meeting with officials from the Welsh Assembly this week to demand action.

“There has been a national failure of Welsh Government to tackle the problem,” he concluded.

Terrible river pollutions need tackling

One to the worst recent pollutions took place on the River Teifi in Ceredigion last December where thousands of prime salmon, sea trout, trout and grayling were killed.

There’s been no prosecution despite the pollution being traced to a farm with a slurry problem.

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith, chief executive of Afonydd Cymru, the umbrella body representing Wales’ six rivers trusts, said: “We’ve seen terrible disasters in Wales, not just spot pollutions but the general diffuse pollution and the organic content that’s going into rivers and really degrading them badly.

“The impact on fish stocks had been devastating and that had ramifications for the rural economy as well as the environment,” he added.

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