The Government and Environment Agency are to face a legal challenge after alleged pollution in a North Yorkshire river.

Tomorrow (July 12) the High Court will hear a judicial review of Government and Environment Agency decision-making that anglers claim has failed to stop two decades of pollution in Costa Beck, a small, spring-fed river, near Pickering.

The legal challenge, being brought by Fish Legal on behalf of Pickering Fishery Association, is focused on updated, long-term plans for the river originally put in place in 2003 under the Water Framework Directive. 

Fish Legal says it will be arguing in court that old permits limiting ‘point sources’ of pollution should have been properly reviewed and updated under the new 2022 river basin management plan for the region and that enforcement action should have been taken against permit breaches.

The case will be heard over two days at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Andrew Kelton, Solicitor at Fish Legal, said: “This case is about meeting targets for river health set by the Government 20 years ago. 

“What it will show is that unless regulators and the Government are prepared to take action rather than just produce yet more unimplemented paper plans, any targets they set are meaningless and inevitably will not be met.”

He added: “We believe that the Environment Agency has failed in its legal duty to protect and restore the Costa Beck.  

“We hope by bringing this case we can force the regulator, via the Secretary of State for the Environment, to do its job.”