Egremont Anglers relieved after scaffolding finally removed from River Ehen
Fish Legal has secured a swift settlement of £3,000 on behalf of its member, the Egremont & District Anglers Association, from contractors for Cumbria County Council after poorly-secured scaffolding assembled under a bridge on the River Ehen collapsed and lodged in one of the club’s prime salmon and sea trout holding pools.
Following rainfall in Egremont on the 3rd October 2008 the Ehen rose rapidly and tore down the steel girders and wooden boards which had been put in place as part of a bridge strengthening scheme at Braystones. The falling scaffold ripped out sections of the river bank and continued downstream before collecting in a tangled mass in what is known to local anglers as the Dark Corner Pool.
Tonnes of river debris gathered behind the scaffolding until the pool – which was once about 16ft in depth – shallowed to only a foot in places.
Justin Neal, the Fish Legal solicitor handling the case, said: “The contractors set about erecting the scaffolding without giving any thought to the characteristics of the river which flowed beneath. The most basic enquiries would have revealed that the Ehen was a spate river and that both the strength and volume of water passing under the bridge following a downpour could easily dislodge any lean-to temporary structure. In fact, a similar incident occurred back in September 2007 when the river was in spate so there is absolutely no excuse for the lack of care taken by the Council’s contractors on this occasion”.
The scaffolding stayed in the river for some 9 months following the incident before the contractors returned with heavy equipment to remove the structure.
Surprisingly, the Environment Agency regarded the presence of tonnes of scaffolding and debris as being of “no significant detriment to the ecology of the river”.
Roy Adams, Chairman of the Egremont & District Anglers Association, said: “The complexity and variety of fishing in the Dark Corner Pool changes with the flow of the river and it is one of the most sought after spots by anglers on the club’s waters”.
He added: “All manner of rubbish got caught up on the scaffolding whilst it was in the river – from old tyres to shopping trolleys to huge tree branches. Now that the scaffold has finally been removed and the depth and profile of Dark Corner Pool has returned to how it was before this debacle we hope that salmon and sea trout will collect, once again, in this stretch, during their passage upstream”.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Fish Legal is the new name for the Anglers’ Conservation Association, which was founded in 1948 with the purpose of using the law to fight to protect the aquatic environment and fisheries. Since then, the organisation has won in excess of two thousand cases and recovered many millions of pounds in damages, which is returned to the members represented to plough back into angling and the protection of the aquatic environment. Only four cases have ever been lost.
2. Fish Legal operates throughout the UK and is backed by thousands of individual anglers. In England only, Fish Legal is the legal arm of the Angling Trust.
3. Angling clubs or fishery owners wishing to join the Angling Trust and Fish Legal and individuals wishing to become supporters should phone 01568 620447 during office hours, write to the address below, or download a subscription form from our websites: www.fishlegal.net – www.anglingtrust.net
4. The River Ehen flows west from Ennerdale Water towards Egremont before discharging into the Irish Sea. It is a breeding ground for Atlantic salmon which is one of the reasons for its designation as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
5. It was estimated that the original depth of the Dark Corner Pool was reduced from 4-5 metres to approximately ½m in depth whilst the scaffold remained in place.
6. Fish Legal recovered £1,750 in costs in this matter.