In the last two months, the ACA has continued its winning streak by winning damages in no less than five cases for seven angling clubs and five riparian owners of fishing rights.  The ACA secured over £32,000 for its members in the five cases and in addition recovered more than £10,000 from the polluters as a contribution to its costs of fighting these cases.

The ACA secured just over £2,000 from the supermarket chain Morrisons after a leak of diesel into still waters fished by the Northampton Nene Angling Club. To their credit, Morrisons settled the claim against them without a fight.

In cases that both went to Court, two polluting farmers, one on the River Brue in Somerset and the other on the Olway Brook, a tributary of the River Usk in Monmouthshire, found themselves regretting their actions.

In the Somerset case, liquid food waste imported onto the farm ostensibly for use as fertiliser was allowed to escape into the River Brue, killing many hundreds of coarse fish and brown trout on waters fished by four different riparian owners as well as the Glaston Manor Angling Association and the Dorchester and District Angling Club, all of whom were members of the ACA. 

The farmer claimed the discharge had been the act of a disgruntled employee who then vanished but the ACA issued proceedings.  When challenged by the ACA, he failed to provide the employee’s employment records and shortly afterwards the farmer agreed to pay £11,000 in damages and costs.  This compares favourably with the £1,000 criminal fine, which disappeared into Government coffers.

In the Monmouthshire case, the Court awarded the ACA the full £10,013 in damages it had claimed following repeat pollution of the Olway Brook with agricultural waste.  The polluting farmer concerned was already massively in debt, not least due to unpaid fines for repeated environmental offences at his farm and the ACA reluctantly agreed to payment of his judgment debt (and the ACA‘s costs of another c. £3,000) by instalments, but he is already behind on his payments to the ACA and enforcement proceedings are now being considered.

In another case for the Grantham Angling Association, the ACA has helped secure a payment of £10,000 in compensation for the building of a surface water discharge pipe from a nearby housing development. Should anything other than surface water be discharged and the fishing ends up being damaged, then the ACA will come knocking. Through the Blueprint for Water campaign, the ACA has campaigned for surface water to be treated locally in sustainable urban drainage schemes, which could avoid this damage in the first place (see for more details).

Finally, on the Thame, the long running claim against Thames Water following the serious pollution incident at the Aylesbury sewage works in 2002 has now been settled and the Court proceedings brought to a close.  The clubs received damages for the loss of fishing they have suffered, the ACA recovered some of its costs, but most importantly, alongside the formal proceedings, Thames Water has also agreed to begin the re-stocking of the river at the end of this year and is supporting financially the River Thame Habitat Project which aims to improve fish habitat in the river for the future.

ACA Executive Director Mark Lloyd said: “Following a record year in 2006, the ACA is continuing to succeed in making polluters pay back anglers for the damage they do to our fisheries.  These 5 cases won in the last two months demonstrate that the ACA will take on anyone from multinational water companies to repeatedly-polluting farmers. 

“The only tragedy is that similar incidents are going unpunished all over the country where angling clubs and owners are not members of the ACA.  We also need the support of far more individual anglers to help us pay for taking these expensive and difficult legal cases.”