Dead fish found in 'jet black' river after North Yorkshire pollution incident

Hundreds of dead fish were found in a beck in Gilling West following a pollution incident. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

An investigation is underway after a suspected pollution incident is thought to have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of fish in a river.

The Environment Agency said a number of watercourses near Richmond, in North Yorkshire had been affected.

Angler Ron Wood, who has been clearing dead fish from the beck at Gilling West since Thursday, said: "I couldn't believe what I was seeing because it was jet black from bank to bank and as far as you could see, in both directions.

"It was shocking."

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He described it as a "total fish wipe out".

Mr Wood, who said he thought it would take five years to restore the habitat, added: "I love the countryside. We anglers are not just fishers, we're also custodians of the wildlife along the river."

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "Our officers attended a pollution incident last week spanning a number of watercourses near Richmond, North Yorkshire to assess ecological impacts and mitigate any harm to the environment. The discharge has now been stopped and the water is running clear.  

The dead fish appeared in a beck at Gilling West last week. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

“Ecologists have taken samples to evaluate the impact to wildlife and we are awaiting lab results to understand the full extent and impact of the incident.

"Members of the public can report environmental incidents to our 24/7 incident hotline on 0800 807060."

Tens of thousands of pounds had been spent on the habitat before this pollution incident.

Dr Marie Taylor, of the Yorkshire Dales River Trust, said: "It does undo some of the good work we've done here, particularly when you've got vulnerable protected species like lamprey, grayling and trout.

"We're not starting from nothing and we've already got good connections and it's really important for iconic species like salmon as well, so we've got to really understand that wider impact in improving that habitat and its resilience."

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