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  1. #1
    Ian Cloke Guest


    A fishery syndicate which illegally dredged vital spawning grounds of a stretch of a historic Berkshire chalk river was find £4,500 on 18 January after pleading guilty to three offences. On top of the fine, the company was also ordered to pay £3,216 costs to the Environment Agency.

    Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how the Maidenhatch Syndicate Ltd illegally dredged gravels, grits and other materials from the bed of the River Pang without the consent of the Agency, contrary to the Thames Land Drainage Bye-Laws and Water Resources Act.

    The syndicate was also guilty for wilfully disturbing the bed of the river on which spawn or spawning fish might have been, and admitted to introducing 200 mixed brown and rainbow trout to the river without consent from the Agency on 11 May 2006.

    A local resident in Tidmarsh contacted the Agency in April last year to say that a fishing syndicate had dredged a section of the River Pang near to Maidenhatch Farm in Tidmarsh.

    The River Pang, thought to have been the inspiration for Pangbourne resident and writer Kenneth Grahame's “Wind in the Willows”, is an environmentally sensitive chalk-stream providing an important habitat for trout, grayling, aquatic fauna and flora, and other wildlife including water voles.

    Officers went to the site and found a digger had just completed the excavation of a number of trenches along the centre of the course of the Pang. Ten trenches had been excavated along the river, and were later measured at from eight-and-a-half to 25.23 metres in length, approximately a metre in width and three-quarters-of-a-metre to a metre in depth.

    The excavated chalk, gravel and grit had been dumped along the edge of the channel line of the stream. The bank and vegetation had also been disturbed where the digger entered the river, and where it had to be recovered by a larger digger when it became stuck.

    The officers spoke to a machine operator at the site who confirmed that he had excavated the troughs on behalf of a “Mr Stacey of Andover” who had also hired the machinery needed to do the works.

    As the officers were leaving the site Mr Stacey arrived and confirmed that he was a member of a fishing syndicate, but denied having authorised or arranged for the works to be carried out.

    The company later admitted that it owned the stretch of the river and that a board meeting had authorised the works.

    Conservation, fisheries and development control officers from the Agency visited the site in May to assess the damage caused by the works, which were considered to be severe.

    The excavations had removed shallow gravel banks of the type needed by the grayling and trout for spawning, which also provides a suitable habitat for the newly hatched fish fry. The trenches were already filling with silt further damaging the spawning grounds.


  2. #2
    Ian Cloke Guest


    A conservation officer found evidence that water voles had been present in this particular area prior to the works taking place, but feared that the dumping of the excavated material could have buried water vole holes, damaging their habitat.

    The water vole suffered a population collapse and is a target species for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Chalk streams are also prized habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

    The Agency investigation revealed that the company had commissioned an environmental report to find out how the fishery could be improved. The report was sponsored by English Nature as part of a commitment to the conservation or restoration of the Britain’s chalk streams.

    A number of the report’s recommendations focussed on the importance of shallow gravel banks for spawning trout and grayling.

    However, the report specifically warned that any works carried out to any river, as well as any fish restocking required consent from the Agency. This was posted to Mr Christopher Glover, on behalf of the Maidenhead Syndicate, in May 2002.

    During an interview with Agency officers, Mr Glover, who became company secretary after the offence, but was a director at the time, said the company had owned the stretch since March 1987.

    He said the company had held a board meeting on 4 February 2006 and agreed that the work should be carried out. Mr Glover said that no reference was made to Mr Vaughan’s earlier report and said he had disagreed with the board’s decision.

    Mr Glover also admitted on behalf of the company that it had stocked the river with fish on 11 May 2006 without consent. He also stated that the company had stocked fish since 2001 without the proper consents.

    The Agency prosecutor, Angus Innes, told the court that the company’s decision to carry out the work without seeking Agency permission was, despite receiving a Government funded report which spelled out the syndicate’s responsibilities, at the least, seriously reckless.

    In imposing its sentence the court stated that it paid particular regard to the existence of the report, and the company’s knowledge of the report.

    Mr Innes also told the court that the Agency found its position unusual, as it was normally on the side of fishing interests, prosecuting polluters of fishing waters, or poachers or unlicensed rod users, but had to take action against the syndicate for its actions which damaged an environmentally sensitive river.

    Tony Bates, a Flood Risk Management Officer for the Agency, said: “These works were carried out without the proper consent and caused serious damage to the bed of the river.

    "Where there should have been shallow gravel banks, vital to spawning trout and grayling and their emerging fry, trenches were dug and any chance of the fish spawning along that stretch was lost.

    "As a result many fish which would have spawned in the river, such as trout, grayling and bullhead, will not have had the ideal conditions to do so.

    "Sadly this company was focused on serving its own needs for the river and gave no consideration to the impact it was having on other species in the river and this lack of thought could have had a serious impact on the ecology of the river.”

  3. #3
    Evan Guest



    and what's worse, supposedly fishermen....

    They should be banned from having anything to do with fishing for life, if only the power existed.

  4. #4


    What can they be thinking of? I assume that they thought it would improve the fishing in some way?

  5. #5
    Ron 'The Hat' Clay (ACA) Guest


    Whilst I love rainbow trout fishing in reservoirs and enclosed waters, I detest the concept of introducing them to natural rivers.

    Make no mistake, these people are not proper fly fishers at all.

    Probably a bunch of "Hurray Henrys" and "monied oafs".

    These are the people who introduce rainbows to the Test and slaughter vast numbers of grayling!!

  6. #6
    MarkTheSpark Guest


    Nobody can condone what they did, albeit in the right spirit, but the Pang is suffering far, far more from abstraction.

    This is true of all the Home Counties chalkstreams, some of which have disappeared altogether. So instead of getting high and mighty about this incident, the EA should be making a stronger case for getting abstraction consents reduced drastically and actuaklly restoring the huge number of Walton's beloved rivers which are in a really sorry state.

    But then, they'd be up against the water authorities, and they are scared of them.

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