Landmark Decision reinforces ” Polluter Pays” concept

“A happy day for the aquatic environment in the UK” says The Salmon & Trout Association.

“A happy day for the aquatic environment in the UK” says The Salmon & Trout Association.
Elliot Morley, Secretary of State for the Environment, has now ruled that major watercress producer and distributor,
Hampshire-based Vitacress, must fund an Independent Environmental Assessment before expanding its plant and washing
facilities, which directly affect the Bourne River.

At present there is an almost total lack of river invertebrates – essential ingredients in the aquatic food chain –
in the Bourne outlet channel used by Vitacress to dispose of this waste. As a result, very few fish are found there.
The cause of this is unknown but invertebrates and fish alike thrive in the upper reaches of the Bourne, which
are not affected by the Vitacress effluent.

The Secretary of State’s opinion that an EIA is required because the development would be likely to have
significant adverse environmental effects reinforces the judicial review – instigated by local resident Peter Evans –
which overturned expansion permission granted by local council Basingstoke and Deane. Before Vitacress can
proceed with plans to expand by 60% over the next five years, it has to pay to find the cause of the unknown
pollutants causing “significant damage” to the river and to implement solutions.

Peter Evans states, “The EIA must address the inputs and outputs of the factory process in terms of water
resources and discharges, and I hope the Environment Agency takes this opportunity to fully investigate
the same matters as they relate to the intensive farming operations and the potential for diffuse pollution
on the site.”

The Salmon & Trout Association welcomes this decision to require an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Executive Director, Paul Knight, concurs with the Secretary of State’s opinion that the “proposed development
would be likely to have significant effects on the environment because of its nature, size and location …”

He concludes, “This decision sends a strong message to all levels of government across the country that,
when existing operations are already causing significant damage, their expansion and intensification cannot
proceed without an independent Environmental Impact Assessment. Proper precautionary measures are required
to find the causes of the pollutants and to implement solutions to protect sensitive aquatic environments and
dependent species such as brown trout and grayling.”