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Action Called For Over River Kent Pollution

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Angling Trust and Fish Legal demand United Utilities come clean over River Kent pollution.

Source: Angling Trust

Flood-hit anglers and communities in Cumbria got an unpleasant surprise when the River Kent’s water levels finally began to fall this spring. A foul-smelling, cloudy discharge of sewage effluent became evident, gushing from temporary outfall pipes at United Utilities’ Kendal Waste Water Treatment Works, which had suffered serious damage from Storm Desmond.

Crayfish deaths and unwell birds have been seen downstream of the discharge into this Lake District beauty spot, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC), as well as an important river for salmon and trout fishing.

However, despite repeated requests for information by Geoff Waites, Secretary of the Kent Angling Association and owner of Carlsons Tackle Shop in Kendal, no public warnings about river water quality or the implications for public safety have been issued to date, either by the Environment Agency or United Utilities.

Angling Trust staff, working closely with the Kent Angling Association, have taken water samples of both the discharge and the river water and await the results of laboratory testing. Fish Legal has sent a series of questions to United Utilities about the discharge, which appears to have been taking place since December, 2015. Fish Legal is making use of the Environmental Information Regulations to obtain this information following its six-year legal battle to require water companies to be subject to these regulations.

Following the intervention of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, remedial works that were going to take up to a year are now due to be completed by the end of May to stop the ongoing pollution.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said:

“If proof were ever needed that privatised water companies should be required by law to provide information about their activities to the public, this situation is a prime case study.

At least three months after the pollution started, United Utilities has not bothered to let people living and staying near this beauty spot in the Lake District know that the multi-billion pound company is discharging effluent from a sewage treatment works into the river.

United Utilities, which fought our legal action to subject them to the Environmental Information Regulations all the way to the Court of Justice of the European Union, should hang its head in shame.”

Geoff Waites, Secretary of the Kent Angling Association, said:

"Despite many 'red flags' over the effects of the discharge, there appears to be no sense of urgency on the part of United Utilities to deal with the ongoing situation, in spite of the risk it poses to the long term ecology of the aquatic and bird life on the river system.

A localised ecological disaster in a SSSI river is the last thing that the county, which is still reeling from the effects of the flooding after Storm Desmond in early December, needs. Whilst realising that dumping effluent into the river is a necessity in an emergency situation, by now I would have expected a more cohesive and environmentally safe solution would have been found."

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Tagged as:

fish legal, Aquatic pollution, River Kent

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