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Landowner sentenced to 12 months in prison for destruction on the River Lugg, Herefordshire

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Environment Agency, Natural England, Weekly stories

There has been widespread coverage following the sentencing of a landowner for causing significant damage to the riverbed and habitats along the River Lugg in Herefordshire.

The sentencing has been widely covered by national, regional and trade media, including: BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, The Times, Farmers Weekly, Hereford Times, BBC Radio 4 Farming Today.

Mr Price was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay costs of £600,000 for carrying out unconsented works along the riverbank which included dredging and bulldozing the riverbanks, removing trees and vegetation.

Natural England and the Environment Agency led a joint investigation into the environmental harm caused by the work which persisted despite a Stop Notice. Mr Price’s actions were in breach of several regulations, including the Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution, and operations specified within a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

It’s estimated that fish, plants and native crayfish may take years to return to the river and mature trees will take decades to re-establish and provide shade cover to the river.

Speaking after the verdict, Emma Johnson, Area Manager for Natural England said: 

The destruction of this section of the River Lugg was devastating for the abundance and range of species which thrived in this river. The River Lugg is one of the most iconic rivers in the UK and to see this wanton destruction take place was devastating. This is why we have used our powers as regulators to see that justice was done and to act as a stark warning to others that we will take the strongest action against those who do not respect the laws that protect the environment and wildlife we all cherish.

We want to ensure that Mr Price now takes the necessary actions which we hope, in time will restore this much-loved stretch of river to its former condition.

Martin Quine, Environment Agency Place Manager for Herefordshire added:   

We welcome the outcome of this prosecution for the unconsented works on the River Lugg.

The Environment Agency is working hard to restore the health of our rivers. It is a complex task that can only be achieved in partnership with landowners. We provide advice and guidance but will impose sanctions or prosecute where appropriate to protect the environment and ensure those who breach regulations are held to account. The vast majority of landowners and users fully cooperate with this process.

While Mr Price’s justification for the works was to help prevent flooding to local properties, his actions did not have any flood prevention benefit. The destruction of river banks is not appropriate flood management. It is important that the Judge recognised that the works significantly weakened flood prevention measures rather than improved them.

We urge landowners never to take extreme measures such as this and instead to always work closely with the Environment Agency around river management to agree the best solutions for both landowners and the environment.

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  1. Comment by Stewphen Collett posted on

    if you look at your own picture you will see the trees on the south bank which provide the shade were untouched and are actually casting shadows over the river. I really question the intelligence of your staff. Having lived on the banks of a river which was regularly dredged I am well aware that all the natural life returns with a few months. Where as the river at the bottom of my garden has lost nearly all its insect and invertebrate life thanks to the thick layer of scum and duckweed which forms on the surface every year thanks to the lack of maintenance over the last 40-50 years with fallen trees and silting up has caused the channel to stop flowing most summers

  2. Comment by Hannah posted on

    Absolutely shameful imprisonment of a good man! You should have dredged the river, but you didn't because of your ideological (pathological) need to put wildlife before humanity!

  3. Comment by Syd posted on

    And yet a scrap metal business near me leaks oil , diesel and brake fluid into the ditches that ultimately end up in a Brook and the environment agency do nothing. They said people should ask for their help with these matters but I know how many people have asked for their help on this polluting site and they make excuses and do nothing.

  4. Comment by Anthony Harrison posted on

    I hope you will apply the same values and principles when dealing with the water companies that continually pollute our rivers!

  5. Comment by Rob spencer posted on

    What a load of rubbish, all he did was to take the bank back to where it was when the bridge was built, a job the EA was set up to do but would sooner spend it's money on big pick ups meetings etc instead of actually doing the job it's paid. The work has reduced the flooding of other people's property and if you look at the photos of that section of river nature is returning the banks to green .

  6. Comment by Roger M posted on

    I disagree.
    Years ago the National Rivers Authority used to regularly dredge rivers. Houses didn’t get flooded like they do nowadays.
    Now we have the Environment Agency opposing dredging and look what good it’s doing.
    It’s as simple as keeping your gutters clean and well maintained.
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

  7. Comment by Andrew Mycock posted on

    Natural England and the environment agency have shot themselves in the foot in their handling of this situation. How do you think you will get the cooperation of farmers after this debacle?

  8. Comment by David Llewellyn posted on

    Absolute travesty, Mr Price has done a fantastic job of maintaining water flow along the river as well as preventing possible catastrophic damage to the bridge. The EA are not fit for purpose!

  9. Comment by Andy Dale posted on

    its a scary situation when the quangos and enviro degree holding NE and EA employees are walking over the true country people that have lived and worked and created the 'natural' environment that is so cherished that now it can't be maintained as it always has.
    It is a dangerous road for the govenment employees to ignore so many people and use such draconian measures as prison and such a hugh fine for someone who had a verbal agreement from the EA to carry out some works
    you have lost my respect and cooperation for any environmental schemes that i was entering . the situation in penwith moor is another case of quangos wrecking centuries of work by hill farmers. it is just not worth the worry that you will take land into designations if we help you reach your environmental targets.
    Im out!!

  10. Comment by James Dorse posted on

    He did what NE etc should be doing

  11. Comment by Andy Watson posted on

    This decision will greatly harm the relationship between landowners and government agencies. They urge to open a dialogue but unfortunately the decision will mean less communication and cooperation. I for one will be very hesitant to engage with NE, The EA and defra.

  12. Comment by Andy Watson posted on

    Horrendous decision,
    Decades of mismanagement by government quangos have forced landowners into routine maintenance which should have been done by the aforementioned quangos. The lack of maintenance is building up so greatly that sorting it out is seemingly more and more extreme.
    A little and often approach is far more less disruptive to our environment. We have controlled our environment for centuries and as such we need to continue to do so albeit with a view to protect wildlife.

  13. Comment by john richardson posted on

    What a bunch of hypocrites you cannot even be bothered to put up a current photograph of the excellent work that has been carried out and how nature with a bit of TLC from a Riparian owner has made a cracking good job which should have been carried out by the EA.

  14. Comment by Richard Gwynne posted on

    I think it is disgusting he way Mr Price has been treated, the same amount of prison time as someone convicted of killing over a mobile phone. All Mr Price was doing was to do the work of the EA. We need to remember, that we need farmers to produce food, after all, it does not magically appear in Tesco!

  15. Comment by Eurwyn Jones posted on

    I EA did this work a little and often as they used to there would have been no problem. Wildlife and residents would have been happy

  16. Comment by Ryan Price posted on

    Absolutely disgusting to jail mr price , a fine yes but sending him to jail when people who Carry out such crimes as actual physical assult on anouther person is Absolutely ridiculous,
    I have no respect for the EA or our criminal system any more

  17. Comment by simon hoskins posted on

    Just doing what the useless pen pushing ea should of done ,the ea are useless

  18. Comment by Stuart posted on

    Maintainance of the lugg and brooks that feed it is shocking , why arent the EA clearing dead ,fallen and rotting trees that block the flow. Why are flood release valves being allowed to decay and collapse ? Why are bridge arches allowed to remain blocked? EA seems to find enough money for an army of box tickers to roam about the countryside with hired cars, new trucks and ipad type notebooks but not for anybody willing to do some actual good. EA ought to actually employ some people with hands on experience of drainage.

  19. Comment by david posted on

    picture of it now looks a great job and clearing the third arch of silt and helping to stop flooding

  20. Comment by K Watson posted on

    Travesty of justice!
    A man forced to do the authorities work through sheer frustration at the lack of action/deliberate inaction of the very quango responsible for maintaining rivers.
    This country is finished, it doesn't work anymore.

  21. Comment by William Bradley posted on

    There's no need to do any so-called restoration work. It will happen quite quickly on it's own.
    Mr Price's actions were inappropriate, he shouldn't have done what he did.
    BUT the EA need to wake up to the fact that main rivers need to be dredged to get water away to prevent flooding. Slow water getting into main waterways, yes, but they and others are wrong to think slowing everything stops or reduces flooding. It doesn't. No common sense is applied by such authorities - because they don't have any, just a degree in something which does not equip them for practical works and solutions.

  22. Comment by Richard Ward posted on

    NE and EA are a total disgrace!
    Mr Price protected his fellow parishioners from their houses being flooded.
    He did not steal anything or hurt anybody.
    Yet you have imprisoned for his actions!
    When your homes flood and your lives are ruined, remember what you did to this hero.

  23. Comment by Mr. Foster posted on

    Should of been jailed for a lot longer

  24. Comment by William Fenn posted on

    It's nothing for any of you or the other agencies to crow about! The river was in a neglected state as so many are and the environment agency sitting on its hands as usual and then when the village does get flooded they blame further upstream!

  25. Comment by John posted on

    What a complete joke, the man was only doing what needs to be done all over this country, farmers need the land to feed people. If it was building for a new road or train track it wouldn't have been a problem. Sad times we live in 😤

  26. Comment by Andrew Hanly posted on

    So how did the houses not flood when most of Herefordshire was at near record breaking flood levels!And before the work they did flood!

  27. Comment by Peter Tavernor posted on

    The locals very much back John, I notice that you always show pictures taken just after the work was completed not now when the site has greened over nature will take over again in a remarkably short time.

  28. Comment by denise Marie hobson posted on

    Such utter nonsense, I have walked this stretch of water for many years. Since Mr Price has tidied up this stretch of river, the fish and crayfish are in abundance and thriving. I seen many kingfishers and many other species that have come back since the work was carried out. It obvious the Environment Agency aren't looking properly or they don't want to see. They just want to make an example of this poor man who has tried to help local homes from flooding. As far as the sentence he received OMG that was so harsh, My thoughts are with Mr Price. I hope the Environment Agency can live with themselves.

  29. Comment by A Robinson posted on

    He has done what the useless environment agency should have done!

  30. Comment by Twmbach posted on

  31. Comment by E Jackson posted on

    The Farmer's land should be seized, sold and the proceeds used to attempt to re-instate what he so wantonly distroyed!!!

  32. Comment by David Kille posted on

    It seems justice has been served but what about the wanton polution and desecration of our waterways by privatised for-profit utility companies?

  33. Comment by Neil Pickard posted on

    My understanding of this situation is that this farmer took action to help support and protect his local community when the Environment Agency had failed to take appropriate action over a number of years, a situation which is repeated in many other areas of the country. The penalty's imposed in this case appear extremely severe,

  34. Comment by Simon Broddle posted on

    Not condoning the action in anyway but it is curious how the water companies were caught discharging sewage 3,000 times over a four year period into rivers and the sea (and those are the instances where they were caught!) and no significant action was taken. Certainly no jail time for any Directors in those cases.