Friday 29th October, 2021
Natural Resources Wales confirmed in a public statement today that they would not be bringing a prosecution for the pollution event that devastated a section of the Afon Llynfi last year.
The pollution, which was widely reported on local and national media at the time, wiped out all aquatic life from 4.5 kilometres of this SAC-designated Wye tributary. It killed all the trout, grayling, juvenile salmon, bullheads, eels and crayfish.
This was not the first major incident on the Llynfi in recent times either; a previous pollution in 2016 also resulted in a substantial fish kill. No prosecution was brought in that case either.
The 2020 incident was reported to Natural Resources Wales almost immediately (around 6pm on Friday 31st July) yet its officers did not arrive at the river until the following morning. The relevance of this response time to the failure to bring a prosecution will be a question that they will need to answer in the coming weeks.
Simon Evans, the Wye & Usk Foundation’s Chief Executive, said: “Everyone at the Foundation is angry and frustrated that the regulator in Wales is yet again unable to bring a prosecution for a severe pollution event on a highly protected river. This latest Llynfi incident was reported to them in real time, while fish were gasping at the surface and while crayfish were crawling up the banks to escape the water. What is also extremely concerning about this case is that other potential polluters across Wales will now be sleeping a little easier.”
He added: “While it can take some months for regulators to gather the evidence needed for criminal prosecutions, fears had been beginning to build that this would be the highly unsatisfactory outcome of this awful case. It is a sad indictment of the state of enforcement of environmental regulations in Wales.”