EA Prosecute for Cattle Bank Poaching

Kris Kent Principal Consultant at Techniques for Change
WTT’s Conservation Officers routinely meet examples where livestock have access right to the river’s edge, causing a raft of cattle poaching problems for the river – the animals eat virtually all the bankside vegetation, they trample the banks and cause damaging silt to get into the river, killing plants, invertebrates and trout (and other fish) eggs.

It’s been a frustration for us and many of the people we work with that nothing ever seems to be done about regulating this damage.
Well, now there’s a case in Shropshire where a farmer has been prosecuted by EA and fined £14000 for just such harm. In this case, the farmer was repeatedly warned by EA, he was offered (and refused) fully-funded fencing, yet he allowed the damage to continue and was finally nicked.

EA’s case, driven by two keen local officers, relied solely on photographic evidence (i.e. without invertebrate or water quality data) and used new magistrate sentencing guidelines produced under the Water Resources Act. In this case, the stream being polluted connected to a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) with highly-protected pearl mussels BUT the case proceeded because the EA team were confident that there was pollution happening, not simply because of the sensitive nature of the catchment.

Good news for our rivers and hopefully empowering for our regulatory authorities. The photo below demonstrates the damage done on the River Unk, with further detail in the local newspaper:


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