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Anglers receive 30k after fish killed

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Anglers receive £30k compensation after fish killed in Derbyshire wildlife ponds

Not-for-profit membership association Fish Legal has secured £30,000 for a Derbyshire based coarse fishing club whose 9.5 acre lake was polluted by a chemical company in 2009.

The Williamthorpe Angling Club benefited from the free legal representation offered by Fish Legal's expert lawyers, who take on water pollution cases on behalf member clubs all over the UK. In England, Fish Legal also acts as the legal arm of the Angling Trust.

Williamthorpe Angling Club looks after the fishing on a series of three 'ponds' in Williamthorpe Nature Reserve just off junction 29 on the M1. On 9 September 2009 a catalogue of errors at a factory on the Holmewood Industrial Estate in Chesterfield saw chemicals used in textile manufacturing drain straight into the public sewer and on to the local sewage treatment works. Once there, they knocked out the delicate biological treatment process at the works. By 11th September a deadly cocktail of raw untreated sewage mixed with toxic chemicals was released into the first of the series of ponds. Specimen tench, roach, bream and ide began to die in huge numbers.

Members of the club, staff from Yorkshire Water, Derbyshire County Council and the Environment Agency all tried desperately to rescue fish from this catastrophic pollution, but it became apparent early on that all they could do was bag up and weigh in the dead. The Environment Agency assessed the pollution as causing almost an entire fish-kill, having a major impact on the environment.

1,290 lbs of dead fish were eventually recovered, although many more went unaccounted for having sunk to the bottom or been eaten by other animals.

As members of Fish Legal, the club approached the association to make a claim against the chemical company. Although the polluter admitted liability they made every effort to downplay the effect the incident had on the club and its fishing.  Fish Legal argued for over a year with the polluter's insurers before finally achieving the £30,000 payout to the club.

John Lewis from the Williamthorpe Angling Club said:
"The club is delighted with actions taken by Fish Legal on their behalf. I would recommend any fishing club not currently a member of Fish Legal to join and achieve peace of mind. The size of the claim does show that any loss of fish can result in huge expenses, not only the restocking costs, but also the associated loss of the facility".

Fish Legal also recovered £4,000 of its own costs which will go back into its 'fighting fund' to continue its legal work to protect fisheries and angling on behalf of all of its members.

Notes to Editors

1. The chemical company responsible for the pollution - L J Specialities - was prosecuted by Yorkshire Water Services Ltd under the Water Industry Act 1991 for breaches of its trade effluent consent and fined just £3,000.

2. L J Specialities are a UK based supplier of dyes and chemicals to the textile, paint, ink and plastic industries. Sunholt LM7 - a levelling agent to correct faulty fabrics - was emptied from a tank thought to contain water into an underground sump and then discharged straight into the public sewage system.

3. The Environment Agency assessed the pollution incident as Category 1 due to the almost total fish kill in Williamthorpe Pond 1. Samples taken on 14 September 2009 from the south bank of the fishery showed the water contained only 6% dissolved oxygen.

4. Fish Legal is a not-for-profit membership association that acts solely for its members. It uses the law to fight to protect the aquatic environment and fisheries. The organisation has settled and won in excess of two thousand cases and recovered many millions of pounds in damages, which has been returned its members to plough back into angling and restoring the aquatic environment. Fish Legal employs its own in-house legal team covering the whole of the UK, including a Scots-qualified lawyer. In England it acts as the legal arm of the Angling Trust.

Fish Legal is backed by thousands of individual anglers through their joint membership of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal. Angling clubs or fishery owners wishing to join the Angling Trust & Fish Legal and individuals wishing to become members or make a donation should phone 0343 5077006 (Option 1) during office hours.

5. Contacts: For more information on Angling Trust & Fish Legal, please visit or write to: Eastwood House, 6 Rainbow Street, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 8DQ or call 0343 5077006

6. Out of hours press enquiries please contact Mark Lloyd, Fish Legal & Angling Trust Chief Executive on 07973 468198 or

6. For high-resolution images of the aftermath of the pollution please contact Penny Gane at Fish Legal on 0343 5077006

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

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