A WHOPPING £2.2 million went to green projects last year after ‘enforcement undertakings’ agreed by the Environment Agency – but anglers doubt much makes it way back for fish.

Anglers are the only group ‘taxed’ to enjoy the environment but, according to critics, most of the 15 charities getting the cash don’t think of any spawning ground or fish habitat work.

Enforcement undertakings are ‘fines’ agreed with polluters and the EA… and the money goes back into green charities, saving firms going to court.

Ray Walton, environmental campaigner and former barbel record holder, said: “My concern about enforcement undertakings is that they are a softer option when companies need to be hit hard, but I believe even fines themselves won’t be sufficient deterrent unless company directors face personal penalties.

“Even the record £20.3 million fine on Thames Water was just a drop in the ocean compared to their annual profits and it is only a minor penalty spread amongst all shareholders.

“As far as I’m aware, not a single employee was sanctioned for the Thames sewage discharge and with lack of monitoring of discharges by the EA, I’m convinced water companies feel it is worth taking the risk of illegal discharging to save money as the chances of being caught are small.

“Giving the money to wildlife organisations doesn’t necessarily mean it helps the recovery of fish and angling, as some can be anti-angling as they are keener to protect otters and fish-eating birds which anglers want controlled.”

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: “The best way for clubs to get direct compensation is for them to join Fish Legal.

“New bigger fines that go to Treasury should be passed on to EA for stronger regulation and enforcement which is currently not fit for purpose due to cuts,” Mark added.

But keen angler Mike Duddy, project manager at Mersey Rivers Trust, said: “We received £90,000 from a water company for a pollution in the Altringham area and we are spending it on the eradication of invasive species like pennywort and giant hogweed.

“We also received £40,000 for another pollution incident which we are spending partly on a fisheries project called Mersey Starts Well.

“This involves water habitat improvement and partly on building a fish passage to help the movement of salmon which are now returning to the Mersey.

“At least with enforcement undertakings the money can be spent on restoring the environment, whereas when Tesco were fined £8 million for polluting the River Irwell, all that money just went to the Treasury, and none directly to restore the environment,” added Mike.

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