A Fife fishing club is frustrated at the lack of support from Scottish environment chiefs following a toxic spill in the River Eden that killed hundreds of fish.
Sepa says Scottish Water’s accidental release of 500 litres of Zetag into the River Eden in 2018 – for which it was later fined £6,700 – will continue to have effects on salmon and trout numbers for years.
It also agreed that the spill, caused by a forklift operator, had “serious financial consequences” for the local fishing club, the Eden Angling Association.
However, the club has not been compensated or financially supported in any way to restock the river.
A new report on the incident has been released to Fife Council’s north east area committee at the request of councillors Jonny Tepp and Margaret Kennedy.
Ms Kennedy has previously expressed her concerns that investigations of environmental hazards were not being conducted transparently.
She said that little was being done to compensate bodies such as Eden Angling Association for the loss of fish.
Ms Kennedy told a committee meeting on Wednesday: “There was no restocking, and there doesn’t seem to be any financial support for the Eden Angling Association to work with bodies to restock and look at the ecological future of the River Eden.
“I think I have seen other instances where there has been something of that ilk.”
David Farmer, secretary and treasurer of Eden Angling Association, says membership numbers dwindled in the aftermath of the spill.
The organisation has been forced to dip into its reserves to stay afloat, with no support forthcoming from Sepa.
His anxieties over water quality have recently been exacerbated by a fresh chemical spill that occured in May on the Ceres Burn, which feeds into the Eden.
A Sepa investigation into that incident is ongoing, but it is understood that it is not in any way connected to the Eden one.
Mr Farmer said: “The sheriff produced some miniscule fine which is not the right kind of message to send, particularly to someone who has caused so much damage.
“It’s only a small number of salmon that come up the river – and losing them has a long-term effect.”
Club records show that 32 salmon were caught in 2017. In 2018, this dropped to just nine, but recovered last year to 24.
Mr Farmer added: “We’re not getting support from SEPA – the whole system for looking after the environment is broken.
“A £6,700 fine is a joke – particularly because it goes right back to the Scottish Government and we see none of it despite the fact it would help us restock the river.
“We need more transparency on what’s being done to protect the rivers. People might understand [the action taken] if Sepa was more transparent but it’s not.”
A spokesperson for Sepa said: “Sepa carried out a full investigation in 2018 after a fish kill in the River Eden, resulting in a successful prosecution of Scottish Water.
“Sepa has no remit to directly fund restocking of fish in the river, and we consider the fish kill was due to a specific incident and do not have any ongoing concerns.
“The stretch of river impacted contained a mixture of habitat suitable for fish, and we have no reason to believe that the river would not be capable of naturally recolonising and supporting salmonids.
“Sepa would be happy to provide further advice to the angling club to assist with any restocking plans.”
Following its conviction, Scottish Water said it had acted to reduce the risk of a spill occurring again at its Cupar facility by changing how Zetag was handled and providing staff with improved training.