This week, the Environment Agency has warned the public that driving in rivers is against the law. This follows reports to the Environment Agency of people spotted driving 4×4’s in a Shropshire river.
Chris Bainger, fisheries specialist with the Environment Agency mentioned that as lockdown eases people are being tempted into trying this kind off-road driving. Bainger worries that the large vehicles can do unnecessary damage to the river beds and surrounding ecologies; With baby fish and insects being crushed in the tracks of these monstrous vehicles.
Chris Bainger told Gov.uk: “Do they realise the harm they may be doing? They are directly crushing any ecology and while some fish like trout and larger juvenile salmon may be able to get away, small salmon won’t escape. Plus, if there are a number of vehicles following each other they are damaging the sensitive gravel on the riverbed. That means fish will be less able to successfully spawn later in the year, additionally the churned up sediment smothers the river bed and the small creatures that live within it. Those are an essential part of the food chain for larger aquatic wildlife in the river. The knock on effect is longer term stress on the localised environment.”
Government remind that if people need to cross a river with no bridge, they must get the permission of the landowners on both sides of the river before they cross. Owners of riverbanks only own up to the centre point of a river from their bank. (Fun fact!).