THE Environment Agency say they are doing the best to tackle pollution, but really need more money to make a difference to this growing problem.

The comments came at the same time as the worst of all known river pollutions in Devon, which wiped out fish.

Just over three miles of the River Mole in South Molton were affected and about 10,000 fish, mainly trout and roach perished.

The Environment Agency were quick to respond to the incident.

Their staff cleared up the worst of the problem, preventing it spreading further, but a lot of damage had already been done.

An EA spokesperson said: “Our initial response into the fish kill on the River Mole has been completed and the pollutant identified as anaerobic digestate.

“The source has been identified and our investigation is ongoing,” they concluded.

Growing concern about river pollutions

River pollutions comes from a variety of sources, including agriculture and industry, is a growing concern.

National media, including a recent front page of The Times newspaper, recently suggested that all of our rivers aren’t fit to swim in.

It’s even been claimed that water companies can do their own testing and escape prosecution by setting their own fines.

This has lead to a spirited defence of the work of the EA by their chair, Emma Howard Boyd.

Emma said: “Water quality in our rivers is now better than at any time since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

“Rivers in England are not currently certified for swimmers because there is no current system of certification.

“Water companies are not ‘free to pollute’. They have to meet tough standards set by Law and the EA, which they do meet in all almost all cases.

“If they fail to do so we take action against them, up to and including criminal prosecution.

“Water companies are not allowed to mark their own homework.

“While they do carry out some tests for the EA we do our own testing and we monitor and we monitor and regularly inspect their facilities.

“Nor are companies allowed to ‘set their own fines’. If they commit a serious offence they are prosecuted, and we will seek the highest possible penalties

“But where there is less harm we do in some cases accept Enforcement Undertakings, by which the company provides money to make good the damage.

“Whether or not to accept an EU rather than prosecute is our decision, not the companies’.

“Last year we accepted 15 EUs, totalling £3,432,150 – which allows environmental groups, such as the many Rivers Trusts, to deliver major environmental improvements.

“Where the critics are right is the EA do need more resources if we are to tackle pollution as effectively as we all want.

“The funding the EA gets from the Government to protect the environment has been cut from £120 million in 2010 to £52 million now, a cut of 57 per cent, and this has affected our ability to protect and enhance our waters.

“The forthcoming Spending Review is an opportunity for the government to show its commitment to the environment and to protecting our rivers, streams and lakes,” Emma concluded.

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