THE Environment Agency is treating devastating damage of the river Lugg "very seriously" and said it is launching a wide-ranging probe to learn more.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust said it hopes for a prosecution over the “bulldozing” of a mile-long (1.5km) stretch of the protected river and described the damage caused as a “crime against the environment”, saying it has had “huge repercussions for wildlife downstream”.

The trust said all bankside and riverside habitats have been “completely obliterated” after the river and its banks were “bulldozed, straightened and reprofiled into a sterile canal”.


Wildlife affected by the damage includes crayfish, otters and salmon, lampreys and dragonflies and a host of rare river wildlife, the HWT added.

The trust said the River Lugg would be a “test case” for the Government’s commitment to strengthen wildlife protection.

HWT hopes for a prosecution after it claimed a 16-tonne bulldozer was used by people “well aware” of the fact that the river is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – suggesting they deliberately flouted laws designed to protect wildlife.

Dave Throup, area environment manager for the Environment Agency, added: “We are aware of reports of damage to the River Lugg, which due to its environmental importance is protected through Site of Special Scientific Interest status.

“We are treating this very seriously along with Natural England and the Forestry Commission, who have taken immediate action in an attempt to prevent any further works at the site.

“We are mounting a wide-ranging investigation with Natural England, the Forestry Commission and other partners.

“We are unable to comment further at this stage.”

Herefordshire Council and the Forest Commission have been approached for comment.