After 18 months of waiting, the ACA’s members in Derbyshire have expressed relief that the clean-up has at last begun on the Stoke Brook and River Derwent. However, concerns still remain about the long-term effects of heavy metals which have now entered the food chain, despite the Environment Agency’s claims to the contrary.
For those unfamiliar with the sorry episode, a settlement lagoon owned by Glebe Mines burst in January 2007, discharging volumes of sediment into the river via one of its tributaries, the Stoke Brook. The sediment was contaminated with mine tailings – fine waste material – which included arsenic, cadmium, lead and other metals.
In a press release issued on the 16th June 2008, the EA stated that Food Standards Agency (FSA) tests on Derwent fish samples showed no impact of heavy metals on the river’s food chain. However, the EA’s own surveys, which we have now obtained, show that lead, cadmium and zinc levels in aquatic plants in the Stoke Brook – which bore the brunt of the pollution – have increased significantly compared to reference sites. We are still waiting for data which prove the fish are safe to eat.
This problem would have been greatly reduced if the EA had used its powers to start the removal of silt by last winter, as recommended by the polluter’s own consultants. Anglers are now asking if the EA’s determination to quash reports of heavy metal build-ups might be related to this delay.
For the full news release, please see http://www.a-c-a.org/whatsnew.php
On a happier note, we were delighted to witness the launch of the EA’s ‘Ribble Watch’ initiative on Monday 23rd June. CCTV cameras are being installed at various points along the river and the number of enforcement patrols will be increased in an effort to crack down on poaching. Anglers, walkers, cyclists and anyone else who uses the river are being encouraged to take part and to report any incidents to the enforcement teams. We welcome this Agency initiative and hope it is adopted by other regions. The ACA is planning campaigns on a number of other problems which are affecting the diverse fisheries in this fantastic river: agricultural pollution, over-abstraction, impassable weirs and building in the flood plain to name just a few.
On 19th June we issued another claim against United Utilities, this time on behalf of Common Bank Lodge, near Chorley in Lancashire. On the 15th and 19th March 2006, raw sewage was discharged from the utility’s Lydd Grove pumping station into the fishery. During the second of these discharges, the fishery was also hit by a simultaneous diesel spill, the source of which could not be determined by attending Environment Agency officers. The 19th March pollution caused an estimated fish kill of over 2,000, including perch, roach, gudgeon, bream, carp and pike. Although the EA did not take any fish samples, it is believed that the sewage was the primary cause of the kill. The Agency was, however, satisfied that United Utilities had committed an offence and issued a written warning. The ACA is claiming £8,748.16 in damages for Common Bank Angling Club for restocking and loss of amenity. This is one of three cases we are currently pursuing against United Utilities, along with the case won earlier in the year at the Lodges Fishery. Any angling club that is not a member of the ACA with water near to a United Utilities facility could do worse than to consider joining up.
Elsewhere, we continue to wait to hear from the Court regarding our appeal on the Eamont case. This relates to the appalling sewage discharge to the River Eamont in 2006 caused by a blockage in United Utilities’ pipes. Watch this space!
The ACA has sent in the experts in the last few weeks to Westlands Lakes to examine the historic contamination which appears to be causing huge spikes of ammonia in one of the four lakes at the beautiful Westlands Lakes Fishery on Humberside.
Finally in legal news, in Scotland we have sought Senior Counsel’s Opinion on legal action against rainbow trout farms for the continued escapes of rainbows into Loch Awe and Loch Lochy. The release of thousands of farmed fish from floating cages, be they rainbows or farmed salmon, can no longer be tolerated. The ACA is looking to bring legal action as soon as possible to give the industry the jolt it clearly requires. Again, watch this space!
On the 24th of June, the meeting between the ACA’s member clubs and riparian owners on the River Tees and British Waterways and the Environment Agency finally went ahead. Mark Lloyd and Guy Linley-Adams from the ACA attended the meeting and, with the backing of more than 1,000 of our supporters who signed our online petition, demanded information and action from the authorities involved. In particular they questioned BW about the three year study into fish passage past the Tees Barrage and any short term measures which might be put in place to deter seals. Of the 5 salmon which were netted swimming through the fish pass on that day, 5 had suffered seal damage and two salmon were eaten by seals just yards from the fish pass entrance. We will keep everyone informed of progress.
Once again Total-FishingClub.com has done the ACA proud, raising £1,600 for the cause at the annual two-day festival at Roy Marlow’s Glebe Fishery in Leicestershire. If you like fishing and meeting new mates who share that passion, there’s no better club to join. And what’s more, new members can currently claim a £40 pack of top quality fishing line from Ultima. The website also has an unrivalled database of coarse, sea, match, carp and game articles from some of the top magazines, which is free to access for all members. You can do it all online at http://www.total-fishingclub.com
Finally, the ACA’s 60th Anniversary Auction is just over half-way with bids now coming in daily. Please take a minute to have a look at the lots at www.a-c-a.org
Although we want to raise as much as possible, the guide price is just a rough indicator of the value of the lot – you can bid as much or as little as you can afford!
Best wishes from everyone at the ACA.