Fish Legal has written to Copeland Borough Council’s Scrutiny Committee asking for an explanation as to how a major housing development in the coastal town of Whitehaven, in Cumbria, was allowed to proceed without a critical plan that would have protected a neighbouring fishery from being polluted with silt.
Outline planning permission to build 570 homes at Edgehill Park was granted to Story Homes by the Council in 2014. However, a Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP), referred to extensively in the Environmental Statement produced by the developer and a condition of the development going ahead, was never produced.
Mirehouse Ponds, leased by Haig Angling Club, has suffered extensive siltation since, with the Environment Agency being called in to investigate and bring the pollution under control.
Answering a Freedom of Information request, the Council confirmed that they do not hold a copy of any CEMP.
Dave Heald, Secretary of Haig Angling Club said:
“Haig Angling Club was formed over 30 years ago and maintains the Mirehouse Ponds (created in 1917) and woodland site for the benefit of the local community. The impact of silt on the ponds is significant and if silt were to continue entering the watercourse from the Edgehill Park, then eventually we will lose the ponds completely. To lose a site with such heritage and natural beauty would be devastating, both for the angling club and for the wildlife that the ponds support.”
The angling club is represented by Fish Legal, an environmental membership association that uses the law to protect fisheries.
Geoff Hardy, Solicitor for Fish Legal said:
“It is astonishing that a housing development of this size can go ahead with such little oversight. Silt-laden water is one of the most obvious pollutants from construction works and yet we see absolutely no evidence that any measures were in place to reduce the likelihood of polluting nearby waterbodies. We have asked the Council to look into how their planning department could allow this to happen.”
He added: “Story Homes have told us they take environmental responsibilities very seriously and that they work in an environmentally-friendly way and protect their surroundings. However, this is not the experience of the Haig Angling Club at Mirehouse Ponds.”