The Angling Trust and Fish Legal cautiously welcomed today’s announcement from the Environment Agency that, 20 years after privatisation, over 4,000 unregulated sewage overflows are finally to be monitored and policed. Anglers have led calls for several years for these discharges to be regulated, after several of them caused pollutions which caused major fish kills, but the polluters could not be prosecuted by the Environment Agency.
Pollutions on the Rivers Don, Eamont and Glaze affected Fish Legal’s member angling clubs, but went unpunished. The discharges were granted "deemed consents" during privatisation as a temporary measure, but were left unregulated since 1989.
Fish Legal (then the ACA) submitted a Freedom of Information request in 2006 which lead to the identification of 3,600 of these discharges and as a result the organisation proposed standard conditions to regulate these discharges in the Blueprint for Water published in 2007. Fish Legal's lawyers have since had several meetings with the Environment Agency, but were beginning to give up hope of this ever being resolved after e-mails and letters on the subject stopped being answered.
Guy Linley-Adams, Head of Legal at Fish Legal, who has been battling for over 10 years for the regulation of these discharges, said: "These discharges have proved to be not as harmless as the Agency would have us all believe. The real test of what has now happened will be whether the Agency has the strength of will to prosecute when these new consent conditions are breached."
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of Fish Legal and the Angling Trust said "This announcement demonstrates that tenacity and political pressure pay dividends. Anglers have been suffering from this perfectly legal pollution for two decades. By joining forces with the Blueprint for Water partner organisations and maintaining pressure on the authorities we have finally achieved a victory for the aquatic environment. Now we hope that action will be taken to stop the pollution which regularly emanates from some of these outfalls."