AnglingTrust The voice of Angling

Current Cases

Fish Legal has more than 65 cases ongoing, acting for Fish Legal members throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have listed below a selection, which is regularly updated. We are also dealing with hundreds of advice matters on behalf of our members on issues relating to angling and water law including: incorporation, bailiffing, canoeists, bulls in fields, excessive weed growth, loss of fishing rights, poaching and many, many more...

Current Cases

A selection of our current cases are detailed below:


River Devon - Fish Legal sued Scottish Water for negligently causing 12,000 litres of sulphuric acid to spill into the River Devon in Clackmannanshire, killing an estimated 30,000 fish. Fish Legal acted for its member fishing club - the Devon Angling Association - whose high quality wild brown trout fishery downstream of the Glendevon Water Treatment plant was wiped out by the acid spill in 2011.  Read more...

SIFT - Fish Legal worked with Scottish charity, the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT), to develop an ‘Aquaculture Information Pack’ for communities to better police their local salmon farms.  For more information about SIFT, their work to promote fisheries policies which conserve and restore the diversity of the Scottish marine ecosystem and for a copy of the updated guide to the aquaculture planning process click HERE.

Dalmarnock - Fish Legal investigated this case and found that Scottish Water was operating  the Dalmarnock WTW in breach of its obligations, which resulted in large amounts of sewage entering the Clyde and threatening its salmon fisheries.  Fish Legal took up case with SEPA to ensure that the outdated treatment works is operated to much higher standards.  We are monitoring this until the scheduled improvements are made to the plant improve its environmental performance.


Parc Cwm Darran - In 2013 Caerphilly Council, without obtaining advice from Natural Resources Wales or the angling club and without taking precautions to protect the fish stocks, drained and partially dredged Parc Cwm Darran lake, which it owns and leases to Rhymney Angling Club. Ever since it has continued to deny that any fish were lost, despite club members having collected numerous bin-liners full of dead fish as they attempted to rescue any survivors from an almost dry lake bed. Fish Legal commissioned a fisheries expert to definitively assess the fish loss and has now issued proceedings in Court against the council demanding compensation for the consequent loss of fishing amenity and to pay for full re-stocking.

Swansea Bay Lagoon - Fish Legal has been representing Swansea Bay angling clubs, in particular Pontardawe & Swansea Angling Society (PASAS), over the past five years of complex public planning processes (Development Consent Order and Marine Licence) examining the Swansea Bay tidal hydropower proposal. The project would require the installation of huge turbines in a walled ‘lagoon’ occupying much of the bay, with potential major impacts on fish stocks including migrating salmon and sea trout. The fisheries interests have challenged the developers’ claims of insignificant impact by commissioning independent scientific research which has successfully called into question assessments by the developers’ own experts. Against this background of better understanding the environmental risks – now accepted by the authorities as significant – the Government has concluded that the project also offers poor value for money compared with other renewable energy technologies and in summer 2018 refused to agree the public subsidy without which the project appears to be unviable.  Read more...

Llyn Brianne - Fish Legal is representing the Carmarthenshire Fishermans Federation and individual member clubs on the Towy in agreeing a new fisheries settlement with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and the Environment Agency for the damage caused to the river as a result of the building of Lynne Brianne Dam back in the 1980s.

Northern Ireland

Ballymartin Water - Fish Legal is acting for the Antrim and District Angling Association following a fish kill on a tributary of the Six Mile Water (the Ballymartin Water) caused by discharges from a Northern Ireland Water works at Mallusk in Co Antrim in August 2015.

Northern England

Walton Colliery - Following the rupture of a sewage main and spillage of raw sewage into a small feeder stream leading into Walton Colliery Lake in October 2013, Fish Legal is representing the Walton Angling Club in a claim against Yorkshire Water for restocking and loss of amenity.  The coarse fishery is part of a coalmine restoration project, in the Walton Colliery Nature Park near Wakefield.
Red House Gill - Fish Legal acts for Chester-le-Street Angling Club in relation to sediment pollution on the River Wear. All precipitation falling on the car parks and roofs of a relatively new industrial and retail park on the outskirts of Durham is funnelled into the Red House Gill, a small tributary of the River Wear at Durham. This surface run-off scours the soft sides of the bank of the gill and transports huge amounts of silt and gravel as it descends to the main River Wear. The result is the deposition of a cobbled bar reaching halfway across the river channel and silty waters extending up to a mile downstream of the confluence. Angling becomes impossible following rainfall and the sediment deposits threaten to clog spawning gravels on the main river.

Witham - Fish Legal secured a £36,000 settlement for its member club, Grantham Angling Association, from a farmer responsible for polluting the river Witham with 6,000 litres of liquid fertiliser. The fertiliser spill was estimated to have killed over 2,000 wild brown trout up to 4lb in weight and countless fish of other species. It spread over 13km of the river, causing the closure of four sections of the angling club’s waters.  Read more...

Willow Pool -  Fish Legal assisted the Tarporley & District Angling Club in following a significant fish kill caused by poor slurry spreading operations. The polluters paid out £7,067 to the angling club Read more...

Debdale Reservoir - Fish Legal is pursuing losses for Bulls Head Angling Club against United Utilities for fish deaths and other losses caused by water transfers of high volume and speed and low pH and temperature through the fishery on two occasions in 2014.

Grove Lodge - Fish Legal is representing the Todmorden Angling Society (TAS) whose small coarse pond fishery at Grove Lodge in Littleborough has suffered silt and other pollution since the construction of a Barratt Homes development upstream of their fishery. 

Skitwath Beck - Following escapes of slurry from a Cumbrian farm which caused a substantial fish kill on the Skitwath and Dacre Becks in September 2015, Fish Legal is representing the Penrith Angling Association in a claim against the farmers responsible for the impact it had on the river Eamont and Eden.

Costa Beck - Fish Legal is continuing to advise the Pickering Fishery Association in connection with long-term pollution from Yorkshire Water’s assets, watercress and fish farming operations on the spring-fed Costa Beck in North Yorkshire which has left the once thriving grayling and brown trout fishery devoid of fish. The watercourse is “failing” under its Water Framework Directive designation despite it being the focus of extensive Environment Agency-led habitat improvement in recent years.

Southern England

Sussex Ouse - Fish Legal is representing the Ouse Angling Preservation Society Ltd in a claim against Plumpton College in Sussex following slurry pollutions in November 2016 and January 2017 which killed sea trout of all year groups in Plumpton Mill Stream and Bevern Stream - a tributary of the Sussex Ouse.  The college – which teaches agricultural and fisheries management – is also under investigation by the Environment Agency for the pollution incidents.

Taw - Fish Legal’s member is representing its riparian member in a case against a local farmer for damage caused to a salmon and trout fishery at Chenson Bridge on the River Taw. The farmer now uses part of the fishery as a vehicle and cattle crossing and has straightened the river, digging out fishing pools. Unfortunately, the Environment Agency has not used its regulatory or enforcement powers despite receiving warnings from the member and Fish Legal. Fish Legal is therefore preparing a claim for damages and an injunction to prevent further environmental damage.

Wellow Brook - Fish Legal claimed losses against Somerset dairy farmers - Brunt Partners of Clandown Farm – on behalf of the Wellow Brook Fly Fishing Syndicate for the devastation caused to its fishery following a slurry lagoon failure in February 2013 involving discharge of between 78,700 and 150,000 gallons of slurry, securing £11,108 for the club in compensation. One Environment Agency (EA) officer referred to this as a ‘tsunami of slurry’ and another said it was the worst she had seen in the area in 17 years. Brunt Partners entered into an ‘enforcement undertaking’ with the EA which involved paying £5,000 to a local rivers trust and EA investigation costs as an alternative to prosecution or a fine. Brunt Partners since caused another pollution in April 2016 involving discharge of milking parlour washwater for which they were fined £5,000 and ordered to pay EA costs of £4,245 after pleading guilty at Bath Magistrates Court.  Read more...

River Leadon - Fish Legal acted for the Gloucester Angling Club in a claim against Rose Hill Farm, near Dymock, in connection with the devastating pollution of the river Leadon with digestate in July 2016.  The incident – which killed thousands of fish – was described by the Environment Agency as one of the worst in the area in the last 10 years.  Read more...

Ham Green Fishery -  Fish Legal is advising a Bristol-based fishery owner whose lakes have been polluted with silt by Network Rail for around 8 years.

River Cam - Fish Legal has issued proceedings against Anglian Water on behalf of the Cambridge Fish Preservation and Angling Society following the pollution of the river Cam in 2013. Anglian Water denies that it caused the catastrophic fish kill. 

Surrey carp fishery - Fish Legal is pursuing losses for a specialist carp fishery against Natural England as a result of the flooding, silt input, property damage and other losses sustained following a dam collapse in December 2013 at a nature reserve in Surrey.

Vicarage Pond - Fish Legal is acting on behalf of the Vicarage Angling Club in connection with sewage leaks in 2018 from Thames Water pipework into the club’s coarse fishery near Weybridge. The pollution led to high volumes of sewage entering Brooklands Lake causing the death of a number of mature carp.
Wrasse - Wrasse are used as lump-sucker fish by the salmon farming industry in Scotland to remove lice infestations from farmed salmon. This approach is increasingly replacing the use of pellet-form medicines such as “Slice”. However, after exhausting the reefs around Scotland, the salmon farming industry is now paying fishermen to exploit the reefs of the South and South West including taking fish from Special Areas of Conservation without any real knowledge of how many fish there are and how it will impact the integrity of the sites.  Fish Legal is working on behalf of its general membership and the Angling Trust to investigate the issues and is now considering a potential legal challenge against the government for failing to carry out an appropriate assessment of the wrasse exploitation on the protected reefs.

Water Protection Zones - In 2015, Fish Legal, Angling Trust and WWF launched a judicial review challenge against Defra and the Environment Agency were failing to meet their Water Framework Directive obligations: crucial measures such as the use of “Water Protection Zones” or WPZs were not being taken to prevent agricultural pollution in protected sites. The legal challenge settled with Defra and the Environment Agency agreeing to put in place further investigations. But there have been more delays with no effective measures in place.  Fish Legal, the Angling Trust and its partner WWF are considering a further legal challenge.

Testwood - As long ago as 2003 in a ‘review of consents’, the Environment Agency and Natural England assessed that the lower River Itchen, part of a Special Area of Conservation, could be harmed by existing abstraction by Southern Water during severe droughts, and under the Habitats Directive required the utility to make plans for reductions. Southern Water responded by identifying its Testwood (lower River Test) abstraction licence, which had unused ‘headroom’, to compensate for the proposed Itchen reduction, despite the potential impacts on the Test (especially during droughts, when its fish stocks including salmon and sea trout would already be highly stressed). Southern Water went on to assess, through years of expert analysis, that there would be no significant impact on the Test’s ecology, and planned a £50 million pipeline to effect the transfer to the Itchen supply network.

The issue came to a head at a March 2018 public inquiry where the utility challenged the Agency’s proposed licence variation and removal of much of the Testwood licence headroom, which would have reduced, though not entirely prevented, the proposed transfer. Southern Water argued that the licence variation was unviable and that a ‘Test transfer’ remained necessary to meet its statutory supply duties. At the inquiry, however, Fish Legal were able to demonstrate, through water engineering expert John Lawson, that the supposed ‘needs’ had been systematically exaggerated, as a result of which (we believe) Southern Water dramatically dropped all its supporting technical evidence for the inquiry. We then negotiated measures to ensure that the protection of both rivers was put ahead of the company’s bottom line. The overall outcome has been Southern Water’s final abandonment of the £50m pipeline, with any ‘Test transfer’ now extremely unlikely and subject to rigorous controls, and a commitment to develop non-environmentally harmful alternative supplies for the Southampton area (such as a new supply reservoir to be built by neighbouring Portsmouth Water at Havant Thicket).  Read more...

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

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