Pride of Derby Angling Association sink £3m plan for river power station
A GROUP of anglers have won an historic battle to stop a £3 million hydropower plant being built on one of their favourite stretches of fishing ground.
The Pride of Derby Angling Association has been granted an injunction against plans to create two turbines on the River Trent at Sawley Weir.
A judge said that developers had not properly consulted with the anglers over the power plant, which would have generated electricity for 800 homes.
The angling club has 1,200 members and holds fishing rights to stretches near Sawley Marina.
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Lawyers at a four-day hearing, at Nottingham County Court, said the development, which would include metal platforms for the anglers to sit on, could put them "at risk of death".
Alan Miller, from Willington, has been the secretary of the club for over 30 years.
The 67-year-old said: "This is a massive, massive win for the small man against big business and our members are absolutely thrilled to have been handed this injunction.
"This scheme would have seen spawning grounds ruined and land around Sawley Weir flooded.
"It's quite a relief that we have won and this special place for fishing is protected for future generations."
An organisation called Fish Legal acted on behalf of the club against developer The Small Hydro Company and The Canal and River Trust, which owns the site.
The trust said it was "disappointed" by the outcome and would be considering whether to appeal.
Fish Legal said it fought the case on the grounds that the development would have destroyed club members' enjoyment of their prime stretch of river fishing.
The organisation, which takes legal action against those who pollute or damage members' waters throughout the UK, said it was the biggest ruling in its 64-year history.
The judge found that the developers did not consult with the anglers until very late in the planning process.
Plans for the development, reported to cost about £3 million, were first submitted in 2009. Electricity generated by the turbines would have powered homes in the area via the National Grid.
Andrew Kelton, a solicitor for Fish Legal, said the river banks would have been transformed into a 150 metre-long concrete and steel industrial facility.
Anglers were expected to access their fishing via a locked security gate and to perch themselves and their equipment on metal platforms suspended up to eight feet above the river.
The judge ruled that their fishing rights would have been "significantly harmed".
George Elliott, 77, from Weston-on-Trent, has been fishing the area for more than 70 years.
He said: "My main concern was that the fish that would go through the turbines would be sent to mass death and killed.
"It was quite ridiculous to suggest that we should have to fish from metal platforms above the river."
The Small Hydro Company said the matter was now being dealt with by The Canal and River Trust.
Jonathan Ludgate, from the trust, said: "We are disappointed by the outcome.
"The judge has made it clear that this case relates solely to access and the physical ability to fish from the bank in relation to a specific scheme design.
"He also recognised that the issues in the case are complex and has already given permission for an appeal.
"We are considering the judgment in detail, including whether to appeal."