Fish Legal has sent formal letters of claim on behalf of two of its member clubs – the Ribblesdale Angling Association and the Mid-Ribble Angling Society – after both clubs had their fishing wiped out by mud pouring into the River Ribble when a gas pipeline was laid across the river and its tributaries between June 2006 and August 2007.
Entrepose – the contractors for National Grid - left large areas of earth next to the river exposed during the works and failed to put in place a comprehensive and effective system of settlement lagoons and silt traps to protect the watercourse from sediment-laden run-off. Further slugs of sediment flowed downstream when trenches were excavated in the river channel itself.
The claim made by Fish Legal on behalf of the anglers follows the prosecution and conviction of Entrepose by the Environment Agency for 18 separate pollution offences under Section 85 of the Water Resources Act 1991. The company also asked for another 18 other offences to be taken into consideration.
National Grid won the lucrative contract to lay the gas pipeline from Panal, near Harrogate in North Yorkshire to Nether Kellet near Carnforth in Lancashire. Entrepose was contracted to undertake the £55million project on their behalf.
John Whitham of the Mid-Ribble Angling Society and the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association said,
“The silt pollution at the height of the salmon season made the river unfishable. Some club members had taken time off work and travelled from as far afield as London - and, in one case, America - to find that the river was so dirty that the fishing they had planned and looked forward to for many months was ruined.”
“We are aware that such developments are probably necessary but the companies contracted to do the work must be held responsible for all their sub-contractors ensuring that there is no damage to the environment or the assets of others. Not only does such neglect affect anglers but also the local tourism industry and many others associated with the sport of angling.”
Fred Higham of the Ribblesdale Angling Association was angered by the lack of care taken by Enrepose, “from the outset, and at our first site meeting with the Entrepose Management Team, we highlighted our concerns at the possible siltation effects on the river. When I said my concern was for the river, their reply was, “ours is for the pipeline.” They seemed to be unaware of the river habitat’s sensitivities or to even care about the potential damage they could and did do, not only to our fishing, but also the environment.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of Fish Legal and the Angling Trust, said:
“Any company carrying out work of this scale should put in place stringent measures to prevent soil being washed into streams. Entrepose seem to have been surprised by the fact that it rained very heavily in the North West of England. Their mismanagement of this huge project led to significant damage to fish spawning and invertebrate habitat as well as ruining our members’ fishing. We hope that the company will agree to settle these claims for the loss of amenity promptly and without dispute.”