Multiple agencies investigate damage to the river Lugg

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The area being investigated is at Kingsland in Herefordshire and has Site of Special Scientific Interest status due to its environmental importance.

On 4 December, with the support of West Mercia Police, officers from Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and Herefordshire Council came together. They attended the scene to investigate and seek formal evidence for the alleged offences.

A legal notice requiring the works to stop immediately was served on the landowner by Natural England, while the Forestry Commission issued a stop letter requiring an end to any further felling work. The Environment Agency also requested no further works to be carried out on the river last week.

Emma Johnson, Natural England area manager, said:

I’m shocked by the destruction I’ve seen to this very special river.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest represent our finest places for wildlife and geology and Natural England is responsible for ensuring their protection, working with landowners and managers to achieve this.

We have regulatory powers to prevent damage taking place to SSSIs but where this does occur we can take appropriate enforcement action, including prosecuting offenders.

The river Lugg is a very special place due to the ecology of the river and surrounding area.

Natural England and our partners are working together to take strong action to ensure a wide-ranging and thorough investigation is carried out.

The 3 agencies came together to jointly investigate last week following reports of activities including dredging, illegal felling of trees and profiling of the river banks.

The works have the potential to cause significant, long-term ecological harm to nearly 1.5 kilometres of the river.

Keith Jones, area director for the Forestry Commission, said:

I’m appalled at what has happened.

Trees are a precious natural resource, which is why anyone wishing to fell them must ensure they comply with the Forestry Commission’s felling licence requirements.

Dave Throup, area environment manager for the Environment Agency, added:

This is a beautiful part of the world. To see the changes from last week to this is terrible.

We’re working closely with our partners to ensure this is thoroughly investigated.

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