AN ANGLING association are considering their next move after United Utilities were granted a two year extension on permission to pump treated sewage into the River Kent in Kendal town centre.

Kent Angling Association (KAA) have vehemently opposed the practice, which was initiated after Storm Desmond caused severe damage to the existing facilities which enabled the sewage to be pumped out a kilometre south of Kendal.

The anglers say the arrangement affects wildlife and in particular salmon fishing, and this week won a High Court battle to quash a 2018 decision to allow the arrangement to continue.

However, last week’s decision by Cumbria County Council (CCC) to approve the extension effectively overrules that ruling and leaves the anglers facing a tough battle to achieve their aim.

“We are very disappointed because we are very worried about the future of wildlife in the river in Kendal but we are meeting to look at ways of continuing the fight,” said KAA secretary Geoff Waites.

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The problems began when the devastating December 2015 storm severely damaged the pipe under the river bed which transported the sewage downstream.

This prompted United Utilities to construct a new emergency outflow by the plant, with temporary planning permission granted in 2016 which was renewed in 2018.

But angler Christopher Preston launched a judicial review challenge on behalf of the association, arguing that the stretch of the Kent in the town is within a Special Area of Conservation and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest “of national note” due to the presence of rare white-clawed crayfish, freshwater pearl mussels and bullhead fish.

And Judge Stephen Eyre this week backed Mr Preston and overturned the council’s decision, citing the absence of a “screening opinion” under European environmental protection rules.

However, as the court victory for the anglers refers to the 2018 planning decision, it has been been superceded by last week’s planning decision to grant the two year extension.

“The structure allows us to discharge the treated water from treatment works into the River Kent and it is essential to the operation of the treatment process,” explained a United Utilities spokesperson.

“We are committed to finding a permanent engineering solution for the outfall, however there are significant geological and archaeological challenges to overcome and that is why it is taking some time to complete the work.

“We are liaising closely with Natural England, Historic England, the Environment Agency and Cumbria County Council as we develop a permanent solution over the next two years that will continue to protect the River Kent and its fish and wildlife.”

The KAA confirmed their disappointment at the decision and were meeting last night, Wednesday, to consider the matter.