A WEALTHY water company was actually to blame for a devastating river pollution last month.

As we reported in September, a nine kilometre stretch of the Clywedog near Wrexham in North Wales was wiped out by the river pollution.

Tens of thousands of River Clywedog fish were killed but it has been established that it was Welsh Water, and not a farming incident, that was to blame.

Now anglers want action against the firm as National Resources Wales, which took over from the Environment Agency in 2013. According to anglers watching their progress, they have a very poor track record of prosecuting polluters.

Between 2013-2016, NRW prosecuted under one per cent of polluters as they only investigated 60 per cent of reported incidents in the first place.

Helen Evans, a NRW spokeswoman, said: “We were aware at an early stage in the investigation that a discharge from a sewage treatment works operated by Welsh Water had occurred, and investigations are ongoing at present.
“We cannot discuss what the enforcement outcome will be at this stage as we are still in the process of investigating the offence.

“The discharge was primary settled storm sewage and was caused by a release from the storm tanks as a result of maintenance work been carried out on site,” she concluded.

A Welsh Water spokesperson said: “While carrying out essential maintenance work on our outfall chamber at our Five Fords wastewater treatment works in Wrexham, a pollution incident occurred following a temporary release from one of our storm water tanks into the River Clywedog.

“This caused conditions in the river that led to fish dying and we are extremely sorry for this. We are currently working closely with NRW to fully investigate the incident.

“We are also carrying out a full internal investigation and will be working with local stakeholders and relevant river trusts and river users to explore options to make good the damage done.

“Safeguarding our coastal waters and rivers from pollution caused by our network is one of our most important responsibilities at Welsh Water. On this occasion we failed, and for this, we sincerely apologise,” he concluded.

River pollution help from Angling Trust

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, commented: “We will continue to watch for the outcome of any criminal proceedings and then our legal team will work with those clubs and fisheries affected which were Fish Legal members at the time of the pollution to recover compensation through a civil claim.

“We have scores of similar cases ongoing against water companies throughout the UK for polluting watercourses and lakes that damage fishing rights owned or leased by our member clubs and fisheries,” Mark added.

The record fine for a British river pollution incident was by Thames Water. They were given a £19.7 million penalty with £600,000 in costs.

That historic case came after  TW let sewage flow into six sites on the River Thames and tributaries in Oxfordshire in March 2017.

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