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Fish Legal in High Court battle to save rare endangered fish at Llyn Padarn

Fish Legal in High Court battle to save rare endangered fish at Llyn Padarn in North Wales

24 November 2015

The latest round of litigation to save the endangered Arctic char at Llyn Padarn in North Wales is set to kick off on the 24th November at Caernarfon court centre.

Fish Legal, representing its member club the Seiont Gwyrfai & Llyfni Anglers’ Society (the “Society”), will confront Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh Ministers and Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water (DCWW) in a 2-3 day Judicial Review trial.

Fish Legal and the Society are seeking to establish that the regulator has (yet again) taken an unlawfully narrow view of what constitutes environmental damage to the char and its protected habitat, primarily from the raw sewage and treated effluent discharged by DCWW into the lake and surrounding area.

The fish is a genetically unique variety of char found only at Llyn Padarn and so is of high conservation value. The lake and the fish are notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (or SSSI), and form part of the Society’s fishing.

A further complaint, principally against the Welsh Ministers, is that they have failed to implement EU law obligations correctly in this area (under the Environmental Liability Directive), such that the wrong law is being applied by the regulator.

This new legal action follows on from a previous successful judicial review claim won by Fish Legal against NRW in May 2014. The anglers successfully argued then that NRW had failed to apply the correct implementation date for assessing damage to the fish from the pollution, and so it had not applied the law correctly. NRW was ordered by the court to re-do its investigation, but unfortunately this second attempt contains further legal errors, according to the Society. 

NRW has told Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water that it is liable for just one aspect of the overall damage, namely having caused a toxic algal bloom in 2009. However, the regulator has failed to go further than that and identify that damage is being caused from treated and raw sewage entering the lake on an ongoing basis, to the char population or to its habitat.

Huw Hughes, the Society's Secretary, said: “I have been involved in this situation since 1992, but it seems only now the regulator and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water are slowly coming to terms with having caused this damage, and even now we are having to take them to court. It’s been awful.”

William Rundle, Head Solicitor at Fish Legal, commented: “Natural Resources Wales has presided over long-term damage to the lake and its protected fish. In large part this is through its failure to regulate appropriately the sewage pollution impacts. Even now, it would seem that they are not applying the relevant legal framework to properly safeguard the char’s future.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “The regulator’s management of this situation over more than two decades has been a complete shambles and we hope that this judicial review will finally make them get a grip. It is well documented that sewage discharges have degraded this wonderful lake and its fish stocks, by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water pouring raw and treated sewage effluent into its waters. We cannot understand why NRW does not require DCWW to divert the sewage away from this conservation site.”

A summary of Fish Legal’s actions to date and what the organisation is trying to achieve can be found in the document below.

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

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