Environmental groups take legal action against Government over pollution of natural areas

The WWF UK, Angling Trust and Fish Legal are set to launch a legal challenge against the Government for not effectively protecting some of the UK’s natural areas such as the Rivers Avon, Wye and Eden.

As three of the largest environmental organisations in Britain, all of the aforementioned groups will be using legal representation in an attempt to reduce the level of pollution at natural sites including Poole Harbour in Dorset, which is said to be the largest natural harbour in Europe.

Among the environmental issues they will be highlighting with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Environment Agency, are the impacts of pollution on fish and wildlife.

European law dictates that the UK has a legal responsibility to clean up its most ‘at risk’ natural habitats by December this year.

In 2009, the Government originally agreed to give the necessary attention to 57 rivers and wetland areas, but the WWF claims that 50 of them have not been improved at all.

The organisations have been given the permission for a judicial review and, if they are successful when court proceedings take place – probably later this year – the Government will have to commit to creating a schedule of work for reducing pollution in the affected areas.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF UK, recently stated that the condition of Britain’s rivers and lakes was “one of the most critical concerns” for the charity and the other bodies it is working with.

Mr Nussbaum added: “Not only are they vital for important species such as Atlantic salmon, bullhead fish, bittern and kingfisher, but they are also important for recreational activities such as fishing, walking and birdwatching, which provide a vital income for rural communities.”

“We are calling on the Government to use the tools at its disposal to tackle the issue.

“We hope this legal action will lead to a rethink of the approach of the Government and Environment Agency so that we can see real improvements in these precious places.”

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London

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