Today, after much constructive negotiation on behalf of the Wandle Trust, the Wandle Piscators, the Morden Hall Park Angling Club and riparian owners, the Anglers’ Conservation Association announced that Thames Water would support the restoration of the Wandle with a 5-year partnership project led by the Wandle Trust, worth a total of £500,000.
This was the largest-ever settlement by a polluter in the history of the ACA – and by extension the largest-ever in the United Kingdom.
Here’s the text of the ACA’s press release:
£500,000 to restore River Wandle
An historic agreement has been reached that will see more than £500,000 being paid by Thames Water to restore and improve the River Wandle over the next 5 years.
This follows the serious pollution incident on 17 September, which saw thousands of fish killed and a significant impact on invertebrate and plant life in the river. Thames Water admitted responsibility for the incident within days and has apologised unreservedly to the local community and angling clubs. The Anglers’ Conservation Association has led negotiations which have concluded today with the largest settlement in the ACA’s 60 year history. The water company will today announce:
£7,000 project funding for a local education project;
£10,000 in compensation for the two angling clubs;
£30,000 to meet the costs of restocking and an ongoing survey to assess damage to the river’s ecology;
£200,000 core funding for the Wandle Trust to include support for the cost of an employee who will raise additional project funding to deliver access and habitat improvements along the length of the river;
£250,000 over 5 years for a restoration fund to support local projects to improve the river environment;
Investment in failsafe measures at Beddington Sewage Treatment works to prevent pollution like this ever happening again in the future;
The announcement of this project will not have any bearing whatsoever on any future criminal prosecution of Thames Water by the Environment Agency for the incident.
Mark Lloyd, Executive Director of the Anglers’ Conservation Association said:
“This incident has been transformed from a disaster into a triumph for the river by Thames Water’s genuine desire to put right the damage they caused back in September. The settlement we have negotiated provides the basis for a long term future for the River Wandle by giving the Wandle Trust the funding it needs to become a sustainable River Trust. It also compensates the anglers fully for their loss of angling amenity.”
Theo Pike, Trustee of the Wandle Trust and Senior Vice President of the Wandle Piscators said:
“September 17 was a catastrophe for the Wandle, but we are now delighted to be entering into this 5-year habitat rehabilitation project with Thames Water and the Environment Agency. With the security of significant funding, we’re looking forward to leading a genuine partnership of local stakeholders, helping a long stretch of the river literally come back from Year Zero, and restoring the Wandle as a world-class showcase for responsible community stewardship of urban waterways. We welcome all ideas for the future health of the Wandle, its habitats and biodiversity, and will shortly start collecting these via a web forum at https://www.wandletrust.org/
Thames Water’s CEO, David Owens said:
“Thames Water was quick to acknowledge that we caused this incident and we are acting quickly to not only restore, but improve the health of this important river. We have been working particularly closely with the Anglers’ Conservation Association, as well as other local groups to ensure that the programme being put into action now yields real and lasting results. It will provide the resources to support the ongoing stewardship of the river and create a fund which can be used to continually restore and improve the health of its habitats. We would like to thank the ACA for facilitating rapid and productive discussion with the Wandle Trust, the Environment Agency, the National Trust and the local community, which have enabled us jointly to begin what we will know will inevitably be a long process of rehabilitation.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The pollution was caused by sodium hypochlorite which was being used to clean tertiary treatment screens of accumulated bacterial matter and limescale at Beddington Sewage Treatment Works and was released into the river as a result of operator error.
2. The River Wandle flows into the tidal Thames through the London Boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth in South London.
3. The ACA’s previous press release about the incident can be found at www.a-c-a.org/whatsnew