IFM response to the High Court ruling for Fish Legal and Pickering Fishery Association

On 21 November 2023, Fish Legal and Pickering Fishery Association won a landmark judicial review in the High Court against the Government and the Environment Agency in relation for the failure of River Basin Management Plans to address key issues.

The Court ruled that the Government and the Environment Agency had failed in their mandatory legal duties to review, update and put in place measures to restore rivers and other water bodies under the Water Framework Directive Regulations.

In a damning judgement, believed to be the most significant UK Court ruling on the Water Framework Directive since the river basin planning process commenced in 2003, the court found in favour of the angling club on each of its argued grounds. The court ruling stated that “there was no evidence that the programme of measures (laid out in the Humber District River Basin Management Plan) could reasonably be expected to achieve the environmental objectives”

The IFM congratulates the Pickering Fishery Association and Fish Legal for their commendable handling of this case, demonstrating resilience in navigating the demanding and time-consuming process, despite the associated expenses. 

Brown trout are a vital component of the biodiversity of Costa Beck

This ruling raises many questions and is probably one of the most important cases for the aquatic environment for many years. The environmental objectives and information in river basin management plans underpins long-term statutory plans and strategic planning, including the Government’s Plan for Water. These have been shown to be inadequate and obviously this will have far reaching consequences. 

The Institute of Fisheries Management will draw up a full response considering the long-term consequences of this decision and how we as an organisation, and with other eNGOs, should respond. 

For more information on the case, see here

Images of Costa Beck from the PFA