Investigations launched over pollution in Wensleydale stream

Pollution in Gayle Beck in June.

Investigations are ongoing to find the source of pollution in a Wensleydale stream.

Local residents noticed discoloured water in Gayle Beck, which runs into the River Ure, last week.

Officials from the Environment Agency and the nearby Wensleydale Creamery have inspected the stream near Hawes, but the source of the pollution is still to be determined.

Andrew Fagg, a member of Hawes and High Abbotside Angling Association’s committee, was one of several people to notice the pollution last week.

He said: “When the beck turned a bubbly white-grey on Thursday morning it became the talk of the town.

“People were distressed by what they saw and turned to angling association members to find out what was going on.

“All we can do is make a record of what happens when and report incidents to the Environment Agency. ”

Andrew and the club’s chairman met with meet senior staff at the creamery in early May following previous concerns over pollution in the beck.

He said: “Our oldest committee member says these types of incidents, where foul and off-white waters enter Gayle beck from a cundeth near the creamery site, have been happening two or three times a year for decades.

“In 2023, we’ve all been taken aback by how frequently they’ve been happening, often several times a week.

“The angling association is looking to assess the state of the fishery in upper Wensleydale and this week we will be visited by the Wild Trout Trust.

“It’s good that there is a renewed national attention on the state of rivers and we hope to do our bit locally by working with farmers and landowners, who have loyally supported for the association for time immemorial, to help improve habitat for brown trout.”

Video of the pollution in Gayle Beck:


A spokesperson for Saputo Dairy UK, which owns the creamery, said: “We take our environmental commitments very seriously and fully investigate any pollution incidents which are alleged to be attributable to our manufacturing facility.

“We have been working with the Environment Agency (EA), Yorkshire Water and our own drainage experts to find the source of the pollution in Gayle Beck. So far, investigations carried out by all parties have not identified the cause.

“We will continue to work closely with all parties as further investigations are carried out. We are keen to see the matter resolved and the beck returned to health.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson: “Our officers attended reports of a pollution incident in Hawes on the June 15 and investigations into the source of the pollution are ongoing.”