ENVIRONMENT Agency bosses have been presented with a dossier detailing a series of ‘unacceptable and unnecessary’ habitat destruction along the banks of nine English rivers, including the River Arrow which flows through Redditch.
The dossier, from the Angling Trust, says the findings are in direct contravention of both the Agency’s own guidance and national government policy on the environment.
The Angling Trust dossier, entitled ‘Riparian Habitat Destruction’ lists a series of extreme examples of habitat destruction on stretches of the rivers Dearne, Arrow, Thames, Severn, Dane, Hull, Lugg, Tone and Warwickshire Avon which saw the virtual elimination of all the tree cover and bankside vegetation, which provide vital habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife.
In addition the dossier challenges the Environment Agency over its failure to ensure the actions of its navigation and flood defence staff are coordinated and in line with published guidance and legislation.
The Angling Trust adds that there is a ‘massive disconnect between policy and practice’ at the EA with them on the one hand valuing trees for stabilising riverbanks, providing habitats and helping to slow flood water then on the other hand ‘ripping them out’ to improve water flow.
Martin Salter, head of policy at the Angling Trust said: “It is all too apparent that different departments at the EA are not talking to each other nor following or enforcing their own published guidelines.
“The taxpayer is being asked to fund the planting of trees and the installation of bankside habitat and also pay for it to be ripped out, sometimes by different contractors from the same organisation. It is utter madness.”
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “Riparian habitats are vital parts of river ecosystems, and the Environment Agency works hard to ensure they are protected as part of our wider objectives to create a better place for both people and wildlife.
“Where maintenance or other activity is required, for example to reduce flood risk, we always work to minimise any impact to the environment and have a number of measures in place to compensate, such as new tree planting.”