River Aggregate Sustainability Project (RASP), 2008-2010

Since the advent of mechanisation, removing sand and gravel from rivers and streams as a cheap source of material for tracks and buildings has become an increasingly common practice. Some extraction is, of course, legitimate but much is illegal. In other circumstances it is misjudgement in timing or site. There is by no means common agreement amongst statutory bodies as to the precise application of existing regulations or legislation. On top of that, such legislation and regulations that are in existence appear impossible to enforce.

The effects of these extractions can be catastrophic for channel stability, spawning fish and invertebrate life in rivers that are already facing huge challenges from other adverse land use practices. It is perceived, however, that of all aggregate removal in the UK, that from rivers and streams remains some of the most environmentally damaging.

RASP is funded by The Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, the Environment Agency Wales and Countryside Council for Wales and will ...

  1. Work with Statutory bodies and specialist solicitors Guy Linley-Adams & Fish Legal we have established the current position with the law and regulation in respect of the damaging activities recorded.

  2. Establishing with scientific advice what is acceptable in respect of timing, quantity, method and choice of site.

  3. Produce, with Statutory bodies, Bi Lingual information and "Best Practice" guidelines (click for English or Welsh) that would guide and reduce damaging extractions.

  4. Discussions with persons exercising their rights identified to be unacceptably detrimental.

  5. Follow up and monitoring.

The project will reconcile extraction needs with knowledge about the sensitivities and potential damage to river ecology. Success in managing this in the Usk and Wye could lead to a pan England and Wales application.

Some of the gravel extractions we have come across in RASP ...

This operation from the upper Wye won our 2008 Most Damaging Extraction of the Year AwardThe 2009 winner, from the river Ithon

Runner up in 2009, on the Wye in between Glasbury and Hay.The leading candidate so far in 2010 will be difficult to beat. This extraction was carried out in the upper Lugg catchment.

Please let us know if you see gravel removal anytime between Mid October and end of July at admin@wyeuskfoundation.org or telephone 01874 711 714.