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Fish Legal Takes Natural Resources Wales to Court

Fish Legal takes its battle against sewage pollution to the High Court after Natural Resources Wales (NRW) let Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water (DCWW) “off-the-hook” for damage caused to Llyn Padarn; a precious glacial lake in North Wales, containing a unique sub-species of arctic char found nowhere else in the world.

In February 2012, Fish Legal formally notified NRW of damage to the lake under the Environmental Damage Regulations, triggering a 17 month investigation. The eventual report released in June this year did identify DCWW as responsible for causing environmental damage, but crucially, the regulator failed to require measures to stop the threat of future damage, from the regular discharge of untreated sewage into the lake.

Fish Legal believes the decisions taken by the newly-formed environmental regulator “Natural Resources Wales” to be legally flawed, and in an effort to save the fishery has applied to court for judicial review. NRW must now explain its decisions to a judge.

Acting on behalf of its member club the Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Angling Society, Fish Legal has campaigned for many years against damage caused by sewage to Llyn Padarn and its rare fish.

The once pure waters of this Site of Special Scientific Interest (or SSSI) have been contaminated for decades by sewage discharges from DCWW facilities, leading to a toxic algal bloom in 2009. A protected species of fish (an ice-age relic sub-species of arctic char) found only at this lake continues its decline towards extinction.

William Rundle, Head Solicitor at Fish Legal, said:

“In our ongoing fight to save the char, we have used new laws implemented in 2009 to force regulatory action. Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly given the history of this case, the resulting investigation report has proved a major disappointment. A clear opportunity to safeguard the lake and protect the future of this unique fish has almost been lost. We believe the decisions taken are fundamentally wrong and so we have sought judicial review. We want a judge to quash these decisions and direct the regulator to reconsider its position lawfully.”

He further said:

“Environmental regulators must end the practice of dumping untreated sewage into lakes, rivers and coastal areas, and this could be a significant step towards achieving that vision at this important conservation site. This case will also help clarify how these regulations should be used to protect the environment elsewhere in the UK.”

Huw Hughes, experienced angler and Club Secretary, said:

“Due to continuing sewage pollution of Lake Padarn, fishing in both lake and river Seiont continues to decline. Natural Resources Wales estimate that relatively few adult charr remain, an insufficient number to ensure a healthy breeding population. However, if strict regulatory action is adopted immediately there is still hope that this tragic situation can be reversed”

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

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