The Environment Agency is continuing its investigation into a devastating fish kill last year caused by slurry flowing into a river system, which is still battling to recover.

Scores of fish were found dead in the Richmond area, with Holme Beck, Gilling Beck and Skeeby Beck all affected, amid concerns that the pollution would reach the River Swale.

The incident happened in April 2023, with anglers reporting the becks running black for up to 24 hours. The leak of farm slurry came from the AWSM Farming site at Hutton Magna.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Dead fish pulled from Skeeby Beck and Gilling Beck in April 2023

This week the company said: "Despite having robust controls in place, we discovered that one of our digestate stores had been vandalised on April 13, 2023, leading to the loss of digestate contained within the store. This was promptly reported by us, to the Environment Agency and the police on the morning of the event.

"We worked diligently to clean up and mitigate the impact of the loss of digestate caused by the vandalism to our property, while remaining in close communication with the Environment Agency. We continue to work closely with the Environment Agency and police to assist them with their ongoing investigations."

When asked for an update by the D&S Times, the Environment Agency said this week: "We can now confirm that investigations are still ongoing and there is no change."

In a response to a Freedom of Information request in October, the agency said: "The investigation is progressing but compiling and assessing all the evidence is complex and will take a significant length of time."

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Following the pollution, anglers and conservationists raised £6,000 to help preserve the water system and a new environmental group has been set up, but the incident affected nine miles of waterway.

Ron Wood, chairman of Gilling West Fly Fishers and Richmond and District Angling Society, said: "All that stuff came through in a huge deluge and killed everything in its path. Then it flushed through the system, so that by and large has gone, but it was a massive amount of toxic substance that came down, and we are still left with the after affects.

"The problem is these things take time, it's not just a question of replacing the adult fish, it's everything that they live on and for the birds and wildlife. The anglers, and environmental groups are chomping at the bit but these things take a long time, it's a question of rebuilding the whole system and we have to get permission for what we want to do."

Darlington and Stockton Times:

He said at the moment with all the heavy rain it is impossible to do any monitoring because of the sheer volume of water, but there have been signs that the becks are slowly starting to recover.

"But it will take years before we see mature fish in the water course again," he added.