Membership of the ACA has increased over the past year as individual anglers have made use of the new online membership facility and over 200 new clubs and riparian owners have signed up since January to benefit from the unique legal protection and advice only the ACA can offer them. 

The organisation’s services are now in such demand that it has recently expanded its legal department through the appointment of a new Legal Support Assistant, Penny Gane, who started work today.  New funding from WWF has also allowed the ACA to recruit a Marketing and Campaigns Manager.  This post is currently being advertised and anyone interested should visit the ACA’s web site or phone 01568 620447.

The increase in membership is also thought to reflect the sustained increase in activity by the legal department and press coverage of the ACA’s many victories for angling. 

Mark Lloyd, ACA Executive Director said: “we are delighted that our new marketing strategy, the online membership facility and the recent increase in media coverage of the ACA are all paying dividends.  We can only carry out our unique role if anglers contribute a fraction of what they spend on tackle and fishing each year to support our work.  We hope that this surge in support is the thin end of the wedge and hope to see many more applications forms landing on our doormat and in our e-mail inbox.”

Recent legal work

The ACA’s threat of judicial review proceedings still hangs over government agencies should they decide to lift the suspension of pyrethroid sheep dips.  So far, there is no sign of any such lifting of the suspension.  In the meantime, the ACA has referred the case to the Information Commissioner for a ruling on the interpretation of freedom of information law as it applies to the environmental impact of veterinary medicines such as sheep dip and indeed all pesticides.  As it stands, manufacturers’ assessments of the ecological damage done by their pesticide products are kept secret by government agencies – the ACA believes that is wrong and against European law.

On a more routine front, the ACA secured £4,500 in compensation for the Burton Mutual Angling Association, whose members have been excluded from a stretch of the River Dove by a Severn-Trent Water pumping station.  The ACA’s lawyers continue to look closely at the impact of the pumping itself on the lower Dove to see if a case can be made to the Secretary of State to reduce the licensed abstraction rate.

We have also secured a settlement of £8,000 on the River Wenning where the ACA – acting under a Court Order it secured in 2006 against a rainbow trout farmer – sent in fisheries experts and arranged electrofishing of the River Wenning at Bentham following yet more reports and catches of rainbow trout in the river.  The ACA hopes that the wild brown trout on the Wenning will now be protected from the threat of escapee rainbows.  Its lawyers are now looking closely at three cases in Scotland – on the Lochy, the Awe and the Tay – where escapee rainbows are threatening wild fisheries and ruining the fishing.

Part of a large claim relating to the River Backwater – which involved pollution of the Blackwater with tributyl tin and a very significant fish kill – has been settled by one of the defendants but the ACA will continue to pursue the rest of the claim against the other defendants.

The ACA has also been to the Companies Court to restore a once-dissolved company to the Register of Companies in order to then sue it for the damage caused to the Sussex Ouse in August 2001 following a terrible spill of chlorpyrifos insecticide that wiped out 80% of fish on affected stretches of the river.

Just last week, the ACA sprang into action as soon as it heard the news about the disastrous pollution on the River Wandle and has set up a meeting between Thames Water, the local angling clubs and the Wandle Trust to discuss what can be done to help the river recover in the long term. 

The work in Scotland continues to grow.  We are pursuing the insurers for a farmer on the Darvel stretch of the River Irvine in Scotland following a huge fish kill caused by farm slurry.  We are also assembling a claim for chemical pollution of a tributary of the River Ugie and are investigating four other cases north of the border.

The ACA has sent in the bailiffs against two other farmers this summer – on the River Brue in Somerset and the Olway Brook, a tributary of the Usk in Monmouthshire.  On the Olway, the farmer has paid only £500 of the damages in excess of £10,000 which the ACA won for its member river owner this year at Hereford County Court.

Guy Linley-Adams, ACA Solicitor said: “seizing property is not something we enjoy doing.  we would much rather see the threat of pollution removed and farmers taking care not to cause damage to rivers, but there can be no question of the ACA pulling its punches where careless or persistent offenders are concerned”.