River Lugg: EA issued with EDR

Salmon & Trout Conservation issues formal request to the Environment Agency under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) Regulations 2015 over horrendous damage caused to the River Lugg in Herefordshire.

Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) has today issued a formal request for action under Regulation 29 of the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) Regulations 2015 over damage caused to the River Lugg Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The formal request requires the Environment Agency to consider whether damage, as defined by the Regulations, has occurred and if so, to inform S&TC of the action it will take. The Regulations also indicate that the cost of addressing the damage caused and preventing further damage, and any mitigation or remediation as may be required, should be met by the person who has caused the damage.

Nick Measham, Chief Executive of S&TC UK said:
 
“Following their inspections, the Environment Agency and Natural England will be very well aware of the extent of the damage caused by the in-river dredging, tree-felling and bank profiling work conducted last week on the river Lugg at Kingsland
 
The release of sediment into the river and the loss of habitat on the bed and banks of the river is shocking. The damage caused to protected species, including, but not limited to otters, dippers, bats and Atlantic salmon, is also, patently, very extensive.
 
There is a threat of further damage being caused downstream, due to the condition that the river upstream of Lugg Bridge has been left in, with exposed profiled mud banks liable to erosion during winter flows, increasing silt and sediment transfer downstream.
 
We trust that the Environment Agency will now be prosecuting the person or persons responsible for these terrible events. They will, no doubt, require some time to assemble their case, but we will be watching events very closely”. 
Nick Measham, Chief Executive of S&TC UK added:

“There has been discussion about the need to address flooding at the bridge in Kingsland. Of course this is a legitimate concern for those who have been flooded. But what has been done here, the extent of the works, and how it was done, goes way beyond what would be considered to be reasonable in all the circumstances. It is for the Agency now to decide if it was also unlawful.”

ENDS

Further information is available from Janina Gray (janina@salmon-trout.org) or Nick Measham (nick@salmon-trout.org)

Notes for editors

1) Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) was established as the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) in 1903 to address the damage done to our rivers by the polluting effects of the Industrial Revolution. Since then, S&TC UK has worked to protect fisheries, fish stocks and the wider aquatic environment for the public benefit. S&TC UK has charitable status in both England and Scotland (as S&TCS) and its charitable objectives empower it to address all issues affecting fish and the aquatic environment, supported by robust evidence from its scientific network, and to take the widest possible remit in protecting wild salmonid fish stocks and the aquatic environment upon which they depend. www.salmon-troutscotland.org

Severn Trent to adopt SmartRivers

SmartRivers welcomes its first water company hosted volunteer hub

We are pleased to announce that Severn Trent is the first water company to enrol into the SmartRivers programme. SmartRivers is the volunteer arm of the Riverfly Census, where invertebrates are sampled and analysed to species-level. The species lists are then used to calculate biometrics that indicate what water quality pressures a river is experiencing. This information enables us to understand more about the subtle pollutants 'stressing out' our fish, and drive real improvements to the quality of water flowing through our rivers.

The monitoring will be taking place at Linacre, situated on the outskirts of Chesterfield. The landscape around the site is diverse, ranging from broadleaf and conifer plantation, to pasture and grassland. In regards to freshwater habitat, there are three de-commissioned reservoirs and the Linacre brook. Over the years, a variety of practical conservation projects have taken place to improve habitat on the brook for the wild trout that live there. However, the effectiveness of this work in regards to the health of the trout population is missing. 

 Lloyd Ross, Ranger for Severn Trent describes how SmartRivers will benefit Linacre:

“I am really keen to carry out work to improve the quality of the aquatic habitat for the trout and other fish and invertebrate species. Aside from the huge ecological benefit, I believe the healthy trout population could become one of a few “flagship” species for Linacre – we could design and install interpretation and education boards around site and plan engagement events centred around about aquatic habitats, species identification and water quality. 

Having a monitoring scheme like SmartRivers in place would allow us to pick up and act on any risks to the aquatic habitat before damage may be caused. The scheme would also help with developing natural flood management in the area as I would have an up-to-date set of data to inform my decisions and planning. Involvement in SmartRivers would be a pro-active, positive contribution to our company pledge to commit to improving the natural environment on our sites”.

Lauren Mattingley, SmartRivers Project Manager says:

“We are really pleased to have a water company on board, and hope others will follow in the footsteps of Severn Trent. As water companies have a huge role to play in keeping our waters pollution-free we welcome engaging with them through SmartRivers”.

Benchmark samping has already begun in the Linacre Brook, with the volunteers due to receive their training in spring 2021, pending Government advice at the time.

SmartRivers developments and achievements during lockdown

As with everything right now, SmartRivers (the volunteer arm of the Riverfly Census) is navigating its way through the 'new normal'.

However, despite restrictions forcing us to postpone travelling and training courses this year, lockdown gave us the time to make SmartRivers even smarter.

 

SmartRivers - now an IFM certified course

We are delighted to announce that our SmartRivers training course has been accredited by the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM). All volunteers who have completed and will be completing their SmartRivers training will qualify for this certification.

Having the SmartRivers training course fully certified by IFM is a great achievement for us. We have spent a great deal of time and effort working out how to transform the Riverfly Census methodology into an accessible, but scientifically robust, volunteer-friendly format. This certification gives us reassurance that our approach has been successful.

Paul Coulson, Director of Operations at IFM said:

“Following a review of the SmartRivers training course by the IFM Training Team the Institute is very pleased to be able to fully accredit the course. The course utilises an array of delivery methods and a wide range of learning materials, and is backed up with further guidance and support following the completion of the course. Trainees who attend this course will receive a high standard of teaching and will leave well equipped to assess their own waters.”

We want all our volunteers to have confidence that they are receiving the highest possible standard of training and support. We hope that knowing this course is recognised by such a prestigious body as IFM will give them that extra reassurance.

 

A new home for SmartRivers data

SmartRivers data is essential to our conservation and policy work. It is the scientific evidence we need to pinpoint local case studies that give us the power to make national changes. To make this data available and in an accessible form for all, we have built a free, open-access, online portal for all SmartRivers data to be uploaded, stored, interrogated and downloaded.

Lauren Mattingley, SmartRivers Project Manager, explains what the new database will tell us:

"When invertebrate species lists are submitted by volunteers into the database, they are automatically processed through a special calculator. The calculator generates values that indicate the impact of: organic pollution, nutrient enrichment, sediment, river flow and chemicals. You can look at each of these pressures locally and nationally, for a specific time period. This analysis can pinpoint what the problems are and where they are occurring, allowing us to control what is controllable and drive real improvements to the quality of water flowing through our rivers."

The existing data for hubs already part of Smart Rivers is live on the system, and the backlog of data from our Riverfly Census is being added over the next few months. If you want to take a look, we have put together a handy how-to guide with screenshots that explains how to use the database. To access the database open the guide here and email smartrivers@salmon-trout.org to request a login link.

 

What’s next?

We are constantly evaluating the situation based on the ever-changing Government guidelines, but we remain hopeful that training sessions will be able to resume in spring 2021.

We are still enrolling hubs into the project. To launch a SmartRivers hub on a new river, we collect a one year professional benchmark and provide two day-long courses for groups of volunteers. We can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers and not for individuals. However, if you are struggling to establish a 'hub' group your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help!

SmartRivers launched in Wales

S&TC Cymru launches its first SmartRivers hub in partnership with the South East Wales Rivers Trust

S&TC Cymru is delighted to announce that South East Wales Rivers Trust (SEWRT) is to host the first SmartRivers hub in Wales. The hub is certain to play a valuable role in assisting SEWRT restore the natural beauty and biodiversity of the postindustrial Cynon.

SmartRivers, born out of the Riverfly Census, uses aquatic invertebrates as a diagnostic test to tell us about the health of rivers and possible pollutants affecting wild fish populations.

Quick and easy to deploy, but also producing robust and powerful information, polluters of rivers and streams have already been forced to take action. "SmartRivers Delivering Results"

Richard Garner Williams, S&TC National Office for Wales

"I'm delighted SEWRT has chosen to engage with S&TC's SmartRivers programme and look forward to seeing the positive contribution the hub will make towards the Trust's ambitions. It is heartwarming to see the rivers of the south Wales valleys returning to life and I wish the all those associated with the Trust great success in their endeavours." 

river cynon smartrivers

SmartRivers provides valuable information to assist with catchment management decisions, as well as establishing an insurance policy for rivers in the form of a benchmark of their health.

The South East Wales Rivers Trust (SEWRT) was formed in 2007 to recover river habitats in the former industrial valleys of South Wales. The valley environment suffered a great deal in the industrial era, but is slowly recovering, although weirs, contemporary industrial pollution and waste water issues continue to present problems for fish habitats and migration. Thanks to European funding, SEWRT has spent in excess of£190,0000 over recent years on twenty fish easements and three habitat improvement schemes opening up an additional one hundred and thirteen kilometres of river to migrating fish. Regrettably, due to pressure of work, the Cynon did not feature heavily in the programme, benefitting from only five minor easements.  Historically, the Cynon valley was a major area of coal production and heavy industry, the consequences of which had a devastating impact on the ecology of the river. However, the very upper reaches were not so badly affected and over the years these have proved to be the areas from which life has returned to repopulate this bruised and battered river. Local interest in the recovery and importance of the Cynon has generated an enthusiastic band of volunteers, ready and willing to carry out much of the work. The driving force within SEWRT is working with the local community to value the river, carry out community river surveys and run river restoration and fly monitoring courses.

Tony Rees, Chairperson of the SEWRT said:

“As Chairman of the SEWRT I have been heavily involved in several fly monitoring programmes.  Reading about the SmartRivers project made me realise how well this would fit into a new project that SEWRT is running on a truly urban river, the Cynon. I already have funding for two fly monitoring courses locally as well as to run a river restoration course. Using SmartRivers will raise the standard of the work we will be doing to a higher level and is a perfect fit for the “River for All” project on the Cynon. It will ultimately help us to understand in greater depth the problems in our valley rivers. It will also be an excellent way to show those who join in with us the unseen life in the river that is so important to all our wellbeing, but that the public has little knowledge of.  We are grateful to Welsh Water, Pen Y Cymoedd wind farm community fund, Natural Resources Wales and Post Code Lottery for supporting the project.”

SmartRivers includes a comprehensive online and field-based training scheme, 1-2-1 support and good use of information technology, including a dedicated S&TC Invert ID App. This ensures that local community groups themselves are able to monitor the water quality in their rivers to a near-professional standard.

Lauren Mattingley, SmartRivers Project Manager S&TC

We are delighted to be continuing our water quality work in Wales through SmartRivers. The Cynon is unlike any river we have enrolled in the programme to date, so the information we will obtain through the monitoring will be fascinating. It is astounding that tiny invertebrates can give us such vast insight into the subtle, and often invisible, pressures our young fish are being exposed to. We are very excited to educate the Cynon volunteers on these pressures. SmartRivers will give them the scientific power to understand what improvements are needed and measure the biological impact of any actions they may take.”

 Nick Measham, S&TC CEO said:

“The rivers of Wales rivers suffered so much in the industrial era and sadly continue to face a lot of pressure. We are always pleased to hear about the positive work being done and some good news stories about river restoration. SEWRT have achieved so much good for the rivers under their care. We hope our SmartRivers programme will help SEWRT turn high quality citizen science into meaningful real-world action that here and now improves outcomes for wild fish and the wider habitat.”

Dennis Baynham, Secretary of the SEWRT

“The Cynon starts above Hirwaun and runs down the valley through the middle of Aberdare and Mountain Ash joining the Taff in Abercynon. It is a truly urban river in need of some TLC. It suffered years of pollution from colliery waste and the Phurnacite plant in Abercwmboi, but in the years since they stopped production water quality has improved tremendously. It now suffers with water quality problems from sewerage over flows and poor connections. I welcome this initiative as a step in the direction of identifying all the problems the Cynon. The local angling fraternity are behind this.”

 Afon Cynon, A River for all: Gareth Edge Project officer

“My project aims to improve the biodiversity of the Cynon through meaningful education, community engagement and small-scale environmental improvements. Volunteers are encouraged to undertake a Level 1 accredited qualification in River Restoration. Partner Schools look after critically endangered European eels for release on the catchment, as part of a Europe wide restocking project. River clean-ups are undertaken in partnership with Keep Wales Tidy. Invasive species will also be managed with the aid of local authority. Partnering S&TC and the SmartRivers programme will enable me to take my work to a wider audience of volunteers.”

 Natural Resources Wales issued the following statement,

“NRW is keen to support initiatives like SmartRivers, that involve communities in citizen science, and engender a wider and increased understanding of river ecosystems. SmartRivers monitoring aims to pick up issues, and working together, we can better protect and improve our river environments.”

 For more information about SmartRivers and how it could support your river management activities, please email: smartrivers@salmon-trout.org

 For more information on the work of S&TC Cymru, please email our National Officer for Wales, Richard Garner Williams: wales@salmon-trout.org

Please note: We can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers and not for individuals. However, if you are struggling to establish a 'hub' group your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help.

ENDS

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC is a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value - we are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

Some of our local reports can be found on the slider below. Alternatively, visit the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.