River Cam

Sewage Pollution on the Cam

28th January 2020

Fish Legal won a legal case taken on behalf of the Cambridge Fish Preservation and Angling Society against Anglian Water following the pollution of the river Cam in 2013 with poorly treated sewage effluent. Anglian Water denies that it caused the catastrophic fish kill.

Anglian Water lost its appeal against the decision of a Cambridge judge to award compensation to the club.

At a one day trial in Huntingdon on 17 October, Deputy District Judge Evans ordered the payment of a modest sum towards restocking part of the River Cam following a pollution in 2013.

However, the water company applied to the court for permission to appeal which was refused by Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith who said in her decision that “the Deputy District Judge reached proper decisions on the evidence and law and [it] is not a matter where it can be said that he erred. There is no real prospect of success and no other compelling reason for the appeal to be heard…”

Anglian Water had earlier admitted liability and paid the club for loss of amenity and loss of match income after the case was issued at court. But they continued to dispute whether the anglers were entitled to claim for restocking to help the fishery recover.

Last January, it was reported that Anglian Water admitted it killed fish on the River Cam after years of denying that it was responsible following failures at its sewage treatment works at Milton in Cambridge which led to the deaths of hundreds of fish, including prize bream.

Anglian Water operates under a licence which allows up to 5 mg/l of ammonia to be discharged into the river but the discharge reached 19 mg/l. The Environment Agency dropped their case against Anglian Water leaving it to the anglers and Fish Legal to fight for compensation.

CFPAS, a member of Fish Legal, leases the fishing on the river downstream of the Milton works. Following the pollution they have reported long term damage, particularly at Baits Bite Lock where big bream had been caught in the past but whose numbers have since declined.

After drawn out arguments with the water company, Fish Legal issued the case at court on behalf of its member. But at the eleventh hour, Anglian Water admitted that it was to blame for the fish deaths and agreed to pay the angling club damages for the loss of amenity and loss of income from match fishing – but continued to deny it was liable to pay for restocking.

You might also like