21 July 1995

Celeb in water row

FARMER and television presenter Robin Page is in dispute with the National Rivers Authority.

Mr Page, chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust, is accusing the NRA of vandalism after it dredged a brook alongside trust land in Cambridgeshire.

The trust, which aims to "restore" intensively farmed land, received Anglian Waters Caring for the Environment Award last year. But it claims much of that work has been ruined by the the NRAs actions.

Mr Page said: "It is unbelievable. Part of our project involved trying to raise the level of a brook alongside trust land, to get more meadows flooding again, with deeper water to encourage more species of fish, flowers and birds.

"The conservation arm of the NRA encouraged us to do this work. They even put up two flint riffles (dams) to try to get the water level up.

"Now the engineering arm of the NRA has canalised the Bourne Brook in Cambridgeshire, draining it completely."

He added: "The work was not needed for agriculture of flood defences. It is an act of vandalism, made worse by the fact that the habitat of the recently returned otters has been seriously damaged."

The CRT is calling for "substantial financial compensation" and asking English Nature to prosecute the NRA for wilful disturbance of otters and damage to otter habitat.

The NRA said it is carrying out an internal investigation and will assess what can be done to rectify the matter.