ANGLERS are furious at the decision by Natural Resources Wales not to prosecute the polluters that destroyed a prime five-mile stretch of river.
River Teifi fans are now looking towards Fish Legal, who are taking their own action to try and compensate local clubs.
The action comes in the wake of 18,000 prime fish including salmon, sea trout, trout, lamprey and bullheads perishing on the River Teifi near Tregaron in December 2016.
NRW allowed Pencefn Feeds Ltd to pay just £40,000 in an ‘Enforcement Undertaking’ after leaking 44,000 gallons of pollutant from an anaerobic digestion plant.
West Wales Rivers Trust will receive £15,000 to restore fish habitat in the area, and £5,000 goes to the Countryside Alliance who run an environment project in local schools. £20,000 is going to the NRW to cover investigation and legal costs.
Fish Legal’s head of practice Penelope Gane told Angler’s Mail: “NRW’s guidance on enforcement says that the regulator will not normally accept an offer of an enforcement undertaking for a Category 1 offence, the most serious type of pollution, of which this is an example.
“Their decision to accept an enforcement undertaking for a pollution that killed tens of thousands of fish over five miles of a European-protected site therefore sends out a clear message to operators of these sorts of facilities that if they pollute the freshwater environment they will not face prosecution.
“It is difficult to think of an example of when the most serious sanction available to the regulator would be more appropriate and in the public interest.”
River Teifi anglers also ‘appalled’
And Donald Patterson, chairman for Tregaron AA, whose members fish the River Teifi, said: “We are appalled and dismayed at this news.
“After what is reputed to be the worst fish kill in the region in 30 years the ‘light touch’ regulatory response after nearly three years of bureaucratic inactivity is shocking.
“This cannot be treated as an appropriate enforcement response.
“After 20 years of working in a voluntary capacity with government agencies, I now find that any concern for fish welfare within NRW has disappeared.”
In 2018 it emerged that out of 3,000 river pollution incidents in Wales only 38 had resulted in a prosecution.
Ann Weedy, operations manager for NRW, said: “We are pleased to see the financial penalty being used directly to repair some of the damage caused by this incident.
“This will make the River Teifi a better place for fish and other wildlife.
“We hope these payments serve as a reminder to businesses that we will take enforcement action if they pollute Wales’ environment and don’t operate responsibly.
The NRW admitted that just seven river pollution prosecutions took place from July 2018 to June 2019.
And from September 2018–2019 eight enforcement undertakings were offered of which two were rejected, five accepted and completed raising £232,560.
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