A farmer who used a 16-ton bulldozer to destroy a beauty mark on the river said he acted to protect local homes from flooding.
John Price – a local potato and rancher – has dredged a section of the River Lugg near Leominster in Herefordshire and has reportedly removed a mile of trees and bushes from the bank.
The 66-year-old farmer has received much criticism and the environmental agency has launched an urgent investigation into the matter.
John Price – a local potato and rancher – has dredged a section of the River Lugg (pictured) near Leominster in Herefordshire and removed a mile of trees and bushes from the bank
But last night Mr. Price, who lives by the river, said he acted to protect locals in the nearby hamlet, whose homes were destroyed in last year's floods.
Local residents said they had asked the environmental agency to clear the blocked river to prevent further flooding, but their appeals failed.
Mr Price claimed he acted with permission, saying: “I am a farmer from Herefordshire and I lived on Hay Farm and was born here at home. I have never moved and have watched this river all my life and nobody knows this river better than me.
“I've always taken care of the river. I was asked to stop the erosion because I am the landowner and am responsible for the river.
“It was up to the Environmental Protection Agency to take care of these rivers, but they don't do any work and have no money to do the job because they spend everything on clipboards.
"I didn't push out trees or topple trees. I only cleared those that fell in the flood."
The 66-year-old farmer has received much criticism and the environmental agency has launched an urgent investigation into the matter
Local residents said they had asked the environmental agency to clear the blocked river (pictured) to prevent further flooding, but their appeals failed
Pictured is a general view of a section of the Lugg River in the area. This is what it would have looked like before
He added that the floods had worsened over the past 10 years and that he had the support of the village and the local council in carrying out the work.
The environmental agency said it was taking the matter "very seriously" and had opened an urgent investigation.
Environmentalists – including BBC Gardener's World host, Monty Don – were shocked yesterday at the "total extinction" of an area of special scientific interest inhabited by otters, Atlantic salmon, lamprey and water crowfoot.
Don, whose Longmeadow Cottage Garden – the turning base for Gardener & # 39; s World – is a few miles down the river in Herefordshire, tweeted, "It's heartbreaking, but all too typical of ignorance, arrogance and sheer wanton destruction of those who who have the privilege of caring for our country. & # 39;
Mr Price, who lives by the river, said he acted to protect the locals in the nearby hamlet, whose homes were destroyed in last year's floods
Yesterday, 14 officials from agencies such as the Environment Agency, Forestry Agency, West Mercia Police and Herefordshire Council were on site (picture).
A resident whose home was flooded last year told the publication that Mr. Price took over the job because EA refused to listen to their appeals.
She said, "John acted in the best interests of the local community."
Another villager said, “During last year's storms, all the houses near the river were flooded and some are still not ready to return to the people.
“The environmental agency was repeatedly asked to sort the river, but it didn't happen.
"I think John just got tired of waiting for another flood and just did what he had to do."
Helen Stace of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (pictured left) said: "This is nothing short of a tragedy." Dave Throup, Area Manager of the Environmental Protection Agency (pictured right), said: “We are aware of reports of damage to the Lugg River, which is protected by the status of Area of Special Scientific Interest due to its ecological importance
Yesterday there were 14 officials from agencies such as the Environment Agency, Forestry Agency, West Mercia Police and Herefordshire Council.
Dave Throup, Area Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “We are aware of reports of damage to the Lugg River, which, due to its ecological importance, is protected by Area of Special Scientific Interest.
"We take this very seriously, along with Natural England and the Forestry Commission who have taken immediate action to prevent further work on the site."
Helen Stace of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust said: “This is nothing short of a tragedy that will have serious consequences for wildlife and water quality downstream. This is not about protecting the region from flooding. In my opinion, the work done will actually have the opposite effect. & # 39;
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