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Welsh Water invests millions in sewage treatment at Llyn Padarn after action by Fish Legal


Llyn Padarn sewage treatment works x500px

Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru) is investing £6.5m in improved sewage treatment at the Llanberis Waste Water Treatment Works to prevent pollution of Llyn Padarn, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to the rare and endangered Arctic Char, after years of legal battles by Fish Legal, a membership association for anglers and angling clubs.

Fish Legal fought two judicial reviews about pollution of the North Wales beauty spot after its member club – the Seiont, Gwyrfai & Llyfni Angling Society - complained of declining fish populations (in the case of the char to near extinction) resulting from increasingly regular algal blooms and water deoxygenation.

The regulator, Natural Resources Wales (and its predecessor the Environment Agency Wales) and the water company had denied for many years that sewage was causing problems in the lake, blaming the regular algal blooms on climate change and other unknown sources of pollution. Fish Legal spent over £300,000 fighting the cases, which were ultimately unsuccessful in court and cost £25,000 in adverse costs on appeal, but the outcome has been that Natural Resource Wales has reviewed the permits at the Llanberis site and set new standards for phosphorus which have required the company to make this substantial investment in new storm water tanks, inflow diversions and recirculation systems.

Fish Legal relied on the right of third parties to notify the regulator about claimed ‘environmental damage’ under the Environmental Liability Directive (Europe’s version of the American ‘Superfund’ cleanup laws) to make the case for investment to address ongoing damage, and Welsh Water admitted in a recent newsletter that the work was being required as a result of this legislation.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “We are pleased to see that the regulator and the water company have finally come clean about the source of the pollution, despite nearly a decade of denial and expensive legal wrangles to try and avoid taking action to protect this beautiful lake.

"Although these legal cases cost our organisation a huge amount of money in legal fees and costs, the important thing is that action is now finally being taken to address the ongoing pollution issue. We are only able to fight these cases because of the income we receive from subscriptions and donations from members, without which there would be no future for fish stocks and angling on Llyn Padarn.”

Huw Hughes, Secretary of the Seiont, Gwyrfai & Llyfni Angling Society, added: “At long last, the regulator - Natural Resources Wales - has acted to force Welsh Water to take the necessary action to clean up their act. The sad thing is that it's taken so long for this to happen.

"Without Fish Legal's persistence there is little doubt that Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water would still be sitting on their hands. The lake's water is now showing a marked improvement. Many thanks to Fish Legal - not only from our fishing society but also from the whole area in general.”

Useful link:

Details of the Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water’s improvement works at Llanberis are outlined in a newletter to the Padarn Forum   

Contact: Fish Legal - Eastwood House | 6 Rainbow Street | Leominster | HR6 8DQ | Tel: 01568 620447

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