Angling Trust to challenge Government over pollution

See you in court! That’s the message from the Angling Trust this week as it prepares a legal challenge to the Government over its failure to protect some of the nation’s most cherished waters.
The sport’s governing body, with its legal arm Fish Legal and wildlife conservationist the World Wildlife Fund – UK (WWF-UK), has been granted permission from the High Court to challenge the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency over a failure to safeguard rivers, lakes and coastal areas from agricultural pollution.
The Government is required by law to take every necessary step to ensure the protection of habitats known as ‘Natura 2000’ sites, where pollution is harming fish and other species that should otherwise thrive.
The Hampshire Avon, River Wye and Poole Harbour are all included.
The Government is required to ensure these aquatic ecosystems are in good health in compliance with the EU’s Water Framework Directive before the December 2015 deadline.
The case is expected to go to court later this year.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive for the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, says poor agricultural land management is to blame for creating a problem that affects almost every UK angler. “Soils carrying nutrients and pesticides are being washed into our rivers, seriously harming important fish species,” he said.
“This is not only bad for fish and wildlife, but also anglers, who contribute billions to the economy every year.
“We must ensure the necessary measures are in place to stop this pollution, and give our rivers and lakes a chance to recover and thrive.”
Now that permission for a judicial review has been granted, and if the Government’s actions are found to be unlawful, it will have to identify the regulatory steps necessary to tackle pollution affecting these areas.
“We are calling on the Government to use the tools at its disposal to tackle the issue,” said David Nussbaum, chief executive, WWF-UK.
“It’s hoped this legal action will lead to a rethink of the approach of the Government and Environment Agency, so that we can see real improvements in these places.”
In response to the decision by the High Court, an EA spokesman added: “After considerable investment, rivers in England are at their healthiest for 20 years. This is down to more than a decade of hard work to improve the health of England’s rivers.
“The Environment Agency will continue to work closely with farmers, businesses and water companies to reduce pollution and improve water quality wherever, and however, possible.”