Natural England has confirmed that they are investigating another potential case of unconsented damage of a highly protected river by a landowner in Herefordshire.
In August this year, anglers witnessed and reported trees and bankside vegetation being removed by heavy machinery over hundreds of metres of the River Teme, a river that flows through North Herefordshire for part of its length. The river is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a tributary of the Severn, which is designated a Special Area of Conservation.
The incident has close similarities to the widely publicised case on the neighbouring River Lugg, where earlier this year a landowner pleaded guilty in court after being jointly prosecuted by Natural England and the Environment Agency for damaging around a mile of that protected river in 2020 and 2021.
The Teme is designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its importance for nature. It is habitat for many highly protected species, such as Twaite shad, sea and brook lamprey, Atlantic salmon, bullhead, grayling, otters, whiteclawed crayfish, and freshwater pearl mussel. In latest assessments, however, over 96% of the Rive Teme is in unfavourable condition.
Fish Legal said: “We would like to thank the anglers for reacting swiftly and reporting this incident immediately to the authorities. It is encouraging that Natural England appear to be taking this latest example of destruction of the habitat of another highly valued river seriously.
It added: “The mature trees that have been removed will take decades to recover and no longer provide the bank stability, habitat and shading for all manner of aquatic species. Like most UK rivers, the Teme is in a precarious state. Any work on the bank needs to be done sensitively and be fully consented by Natural England and the Environment Agency.”