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  • by Karma Loveday

Fish Legal to fight on in Pickering pollution case after Government appeal announced

Angler representative Fish Legal announced last week that the Government plans to appeal a November High Court ruling which went in favour of the Pickering Fishery Association (PFA) and Fish Legal in their case against the environment secretary and Environment Agency (EA) regarding water quality action in the Upper Costa Beck.


In November’s Judicial Review, Mrs Justice Lieven ruled that the Government and regulator had failed in their mandatory legal duties to review, update and put in place measures to restore the polluted trout and grayling river, under the Water Framework Directive.


Fish Legal, acting on behalf of the PFA, brought a legal challenge to the Government’s December 2022 River Basin Management Plan for the Humber district, as signed off by the secretary of state. They argued the plan lacked the legally required measures necessary to restore the Upper Costa Beck, such as a review and tightening of inadequate discharge permits and other authorisations to tackle the root causes of the fish failure, including recurrent sewage spills.


The win for the PFA was heralded as a landmark ruling that could have consequences for waterbodies across the country.


The case was back at the Royal Courts of Justice last week. Fish Legal welcomed the news that the Court ordered the EA to re-work the Humber RBMP. It said on X: “For now, we’ve forced the EA to actually regulate pollution on one Yorkshire beck. It will HAVE TO review permits that control pollution, including [the] Yorkshire Water permit for sewage discharges from Pickering treatment works.”


However: “The bad news is: the Government and EA plan to appeal. They’re not happy with a Court ruling that tells them that they have to come up with specific actions for rivers and lakes across the country to bring them back to good health.”


Fish Legal said it would “fight on”. 

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