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04/09/2013 - Environment Agency Pays Up After Flood Works Damage Fishery



Fish Legal   has secured more than £8,500 in compensation for its member Ripon Angling   Club (RAC). This was due to damage caused by poorly-managed flood protection works   by the Environment Agency (EA) on the River Skell near Ripon in North   Yorkshire.

The EA is   supposed to notify in advance anyone who may be affected by this kind of   scheme, but neither RAC nor its landlord was notified.  What then   followed was a saga of delay and apparent incompetence.

Work began   in March 2010 and was supposed to finish by October 2010.  The   completion deadline was extended several times and the project significantly   overran, blocking off access to key parts of their fishery, and disturbing   spawning over two seasons.  Work did not finish until October 2012,   meaning it took over four times longer than planned,  by which   time  serious problems (in some cases permanent) had been caused for the   fishery. 

Parts of   the river were run dry and diverted through pipes during the lengthy work   which was an eyesore, as well as being intrusive to the club’s fishing.    Despite time extensions and delays, the EA has recently indicated that parts   of the original scheme will require further remedial work, including   correcting a design flaw. RAC conservatively estimates that it may take 6   years for the river to get back to something like its ‘pre flood work’   condition.

A clean-up   to remove debris left in the river by EA contractors during work is still not   finished despite being part of the settlement agreement reached with Fish   Legal. The workers left what the club described as a “building site” in the   river.  RAC leases fishing on the Skell mainly for trout and grayling but also some   coarse fishing.  It is a wild fishery operating a catch and release   policy. 

Wild salmon   returned to the Skell in 2009 and were seen spawning and leaping the Alma   Weir, close to the Water Rat pub in Ripon.  The weir and its weir pool   have both disappeared as a result of the scheme.  Key bank side habitat   was also lost.

RAC is   pleased that Fish Legal has settled the claim for a little over £8,500 plus   clean-up work, plus costs in an amount to be determined.

Roger   Trees, Ripon Angling Club Secretary, said: “I have fished the Skell since the age of 5 and caught   my first fish in the river.  The works caused great disruption with no   access to two lengths of river and silt and dirty water making fishing   impossible downstream.  The work took much longer than necessary and   scant regard appeared to be paid to environmental impact.  Part of the   work appeared to have no flood alleviation purpose and was just   landscaping!  Without the help of Fish Legal, we would definitely have   made no progress with our claim.

Cameron   Hogg, Fish Legal solicitor, said: “This   was a hugely intrusive scheme which took 2 years and 7 months from its   scheduled start date to complete, rather than the 7 months which the EA said   it would take.  Some disruption was inevitable, but it should not have   been nearly as bad as it was and the EA still has more work to do.  Fish   Legal is pleased to have secured compensation, but our member would rather   have gone without the interference and delays.  Other Fish Legal member   clubs should note that if they experience similar problems, they should be   entitled to statutory compensation.  We can help them to make a claim   which will hopefully make good at least some of the damage suffered.

Mark Lloyd,   Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said:  “We hope that our legal action has   taught the Environment Agency a lesson that they must consult angling clubs   before work starts and that work must be carried out with greater care to   avoid damage to the environment.  The whole organisation is under a   statutory duty to maintain, improve and develop fisheries; in this case it   has ignored, damaged and destroyed fisheries.”



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