Angling Trust threatens legal action over EA protection

Angling’s governing body is poised to take legal action against the Environment Agency following growing concerns that the Government body could fail in its statutory duties to protect fisheries across the UK.

The Angling Trust has revealed that should the EA’s spending priorities change to affect the Agency’s legally-binding duty to maintain the UK’s fisheries, it would be forced to act on behalf of Britain’s anglers.

The move has been prompted by last week’s spending review, in which the Coalition Government handed down swingeing cuts to the EA’s overseeing body, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The effect that these cuts will have on the EA is due to be announced over the next few weeks. So far Defra has stated only that it intends to reform the EA through ‘structural, process and cultural changes’. In the meantime the angling community can only wait to see what the outcome will be.

“Defra will tell the EA how much grant in aid it will be getting and the Agency will then hold an internal meeting to carve it up,” said the Angling Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd.

“We know that there will be cuts to fisheries jobs, which concerns us,” he continued. “And with more cuts on the horizon, we have huge concerns that the EA will not be able to carry out its legally-binding duty with regards to anglers and fisheries. If that is the case, we will not hesitate to take action.”

Brian Powell, of Three Counties Fisheries, Herefordshire that runs a large stretch of the River Wye, backs the Trust’s stance: “I’m with the Angling Trust all the way with this,” said Brian. “The EA is not what it used to be. In fact it’s pretty dire now, and we need someone to stand up for anglers who have been taken advantage of for years now. To be honest, though, I don’t see how cuts could make the Agency any worse – it’s stripped down as it is.”

The EA responded to these concerns, stating: “The Treasury has awarded Defra its settlement for the next four years. The EA will discover its share of the allocation in the coming weeks.

“We will continue working with communities and businesses to reduce flood risk, prevent pollution and improve land, air and water quality with the funding we receive.”