CONSERVATIONISTS have issued a formal request for action over "horrendous damage" caused to the river Lugg in Herefordshire.

Last week, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust said the river and its banks have been bulldozed, straightened and reprofiled into a "sterile canal", obliterating habitats.

An investigation has been started at the Kingsland site, with Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission joining forces.

A spokesperson for Salmon & Trout Conservation UK said the the charity had today issued a formal request for action under Regulation 29 of the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) Regulations 2015 over "horrendous" damage caused to the Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The formal request requires the Environment Agency to consider whether damage, as defined by the regulations, has occurred and if so, to inform the conservation charity of the action it will take. The regulations also indicate that the cost of addressing the damage caused and preventing further damage, and any mitigation or remediation as may be required, should be met by the person who has caused the damage.

Chief executive Nick Measham said: “Following their inspections, the Environment Agency and Natural England will be very well aware of the extent of the damage caused by the in-river dredging, tree-felling and bank profiling work conducted last week on the river Lugg at Kingsland.

"The release of sediment into the river and the loss of habitat on the bed and banks of the river is shocking. The damage caused to protected species, including, but not limited to otters, dippers, bats and Atlantic salmon, is also, patently, very extensive.

"There is a threat of further damage being caused downstream, due to the condition that the river upstream of Lugg Bridge has been left in, with exposed profiled mud banks liable to erosion during winter flows, increasing silt and sediment transfer downstream.


"We trust that the Environment Agency will now be prosecuting the person or persons responsible for these terrible events. They will, no doubt, require some time to assemble their case, but we will be watching events very closely.

"There has been discussion about the need to address flooding at the bridge in Kingsland. Of course this is a legitimate concern for those who have been flooded. But what has been done here, the extent of the works, and how it was done, goes way beyond what would be considered to be reasonable in all the circumstances. It is for the agency now to decide if it was also unlawful.”