Environment Agency gives notice of cessation of weed boom extraction operations on the River Avon and Wylye with immediate effect.

The Wiltshire Fishery Association committee has received notice from the Environment Agency that, for Health & Safety reasons, they will no longer be able to operate their weed extraction booms at Chilhampton on the River Wylye and/or Salisbury on the River Avon. A copy of the letter received from Jim Flory (EA) is shown below.

Without having the EA’s booms installed, the WFA cannot meet the conditions of its existing weed cutting exemption. It therefore falls upon members (and non-members) to make their own arrangements for weed cutting and/or weed extraction for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Legal Position

It is an offence under Section 90 of the Water Resources Act 1991 “to cut vegetation in inland waters without taking reasonable steps to remove it”. If you cut or uproot a substantial amount of vegetation in any inland freshwater (or so near that it falls into an inland freshwater) and don’t take reasonable steps to remove the vegetation from the water, you are undertaking a water discharge activity and may be committing an offence.

You may be exempt from the requirement to hold a permit if you can meet the following conditions:

  1. Vegetation removed from the water is disposed of safely and in accordance with Defra guidance.
  1. If it is necessary to allow vegetation to pass downstream –
    • You give prior notice of the activity to anyone that may be affected.
    • There is sufficient flow to convey the vegetation.
    • You register the exempt activity with the Environment Agency.
    • The activity does not cause pollution.

The WFA committee are only well-intentioned intermediaries in this matter and cannot be held responsible for any damage resulting from weed cutting and/or weed extraction. Riparian owners and lessees allowing weed cuts within their waters should obtain the appropriate permit or exemption from the Environment Agency.

The WFA committee continues to work closely with the Environment Agency to try resolve these issues.

If you have any questions, please contact me by email (see below) – and I will respond as soon as I can.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Wellard –

On behalf of Wiltshire Fishery Association