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Slurry leak 'will have a lasting impact'

Thousands of fish were killed. Credit: ITV Border

The Environment Agency is investigating after thousands of fish were found dead on Skitwath Beck near Penruddock in North Cumbria. It's believed a slurry leak from a nearby farm is the cause.

The beck has been loving nurtured by a local resident over 10 years, who has created habitats that have increased fish populations. He was horrified at finding huge numbers of those fish were dead.

The oxygen was stripped from the water as a result of the slurry pollution. So slurry is effectively cow manure, farm waste that is in normal circumstances stored onsite on the farm premises.

We've been tracing the pollution back upstream, we've been brining in specialist equipment in to re-oxygenate the stream to bring it get it back to a condition that can support life and as part of the ongoing investigation we've been collecting evidence to determine what enforcement action if any we need to be taking."

– Ben Bayliss, Environment Agency

The slurry has now mostly washed through and the Environment Agency says it's not causing any more damage.

But Local anglers are concerned it will take years for this habitat to recover.

It seems to have completely killed all fish and invertebrates in this section and may have had some impact further down on Dacre beck so this is certainly a serious fish kill and will have a lasting impact and and affect the recovery on this river."

– Mike Ashwin, Eden District Fisheries Association
The slurry has now washed through. Credit: ITV Border

The farm has been located and the Environment Agency is considering if any further action needs to be brought against it, but it warns other land owners to be extra careful to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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