The Environment Agency proposes to dramatically increase charges for permitting work in and near rivers. This could make the sort small scale community projects that ARK does prohibitively expensive.

We need your help to challenge these proposals, which could severely damage the ability of Rivers Trusts and others to improve the habitat of their local rivers. 

For example, currently an EA permit to place woody debris into the river channel costs £50 but would increase to £764 - more than the work would actually cost to carry out. Similarly massive increases are proposed for permits for fish passes and off-channel fry refuges. 

It would be most helpful if as many of you as possible could reply individually to the consultation which closes on January 26th 2018. 

The link is here.  It's quite a daunting document, but only one or two sections are directly relevant. We have drafted a response below that you may wish to use. Just copy and paste it into 'section 8.1'. You will also need to fill out sections 8.3 and 8.4.

Suggested Response

“I am writing to object to the scale of proposed increases to charges for permits to carry out habitat improvement works of benefit to the habitat and ecology of my local river.

There are many river trusts, community groups, angling organisations, and wildlife groups who, with limited funds, are currently making very real and important contributions to improving rivers and streams as well as helping to achieve Water Framework Directive targets. There is no commercial gain from these activities and the proposed charges run the risk of preventing valuable work.”

Key points you might want to comment on are:
1.       The proposed charges are too great to reasonably expect small organisations to pay up front, especially for small scale community based work relying on charitable funding.
2.       The charges imply that there will be financial gain from river improvement – for the projects River Trusts and similar organizations work on this is not true – the benefit is to the wider ecology and society - and to meet Water Framework Directive objectives.
3.       The charges effectively penalise people for doing the right thing.
4.       The charges could deter anyone thinking about making improvements to their river from making any contact with the Environment Agency. This will mean that the expertise and advice available from the Agency will not be accessed and poor quality unconsented works will result.
5.       The current ‘exemptions’ are confusing but improving the exemptions so that they are workable would be a positive way forward.
6.       A two tier charging system with lower rates for charities and non-profits would be welcome.