Police investigate CaRT reservoir fish deaths

Published: Wednesday, 08 February 2023

ANGLERS and residents are complaining of hundreds of fish deaths at Harthill Reservoir.

The deaths occurred during a fish rescue operation prior to statutory works being carried out.

South Yorkshire Police Wildlife and Rural Crime Team have appealed for anyone with footage or images to come forward so officers can 'establish how this happened'.

Allan Richards has been told, unofficially, that Canal & River Trust (CaRT) initially tried to blame vandals for the deaths.

HarthillFishDeathsCanal & River Trust caused deaths

However, evidence suggests that the trust caused the deaths itself by opening a sluice fully in an attempt to expedite the fish rescue and/or drain the reservoir for the statutory works.

Harthill Reservoir is situated between Sheffield and Worksop. It supplies water to the Chesterfield Canal two miles away. As with other Canal & River Trust reservoirs, it provides angling facilities, particularly carp fishing, as well as other leisure activities such as swimming and sailing. The reservoir is fed by another reservoir, Pebley.

Following the Toddbrook incident in 2019, the Environment Agency identified a number of reservoirs with similar spillway characteristics. Whilst the agency has refused to name the reservoirs, claiming that the information would be of use to terrorists or 'malicious actors' (whatever they are!), it is almost certain that Harthill was one of those identified.

DeadFishDespite CaRT’s claim that Harthill Reservoir is safe, water levels have been reduced as have those at Pebley. Following a statutory inspection in May 2020, the trust has been ordered to carry out works which will include replacing its Toddbrook style spillway.

In December 2020, CaRT announced that the cost of these works would be £5 million. No cost update has since been provided.

Police investigation

On 3rd February, South Yorkshire Police posted the following on its website:

'The Wildlife and Rural Crime Team has opened an investigation into why the sluice gates have been opened at Harthill Reservoir, allowing what appear to be hundreds of fish to enter into a small stream where many have died.

This constitutes an offence of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

We want to hear from anyone who may have been at the reservoir this week in order to establish how this happened. The team are also in talks with the Canal and River Trust who control the reservoir.

We are aware that the local angling community have been out in force trying to save the fish and encourage people to send any footage or images that may help our investigation to the SYP Rural Crime Team email address':

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CaRT employee admitted opening sluice

Just a day later, an angler posted on facebook that he had followed a CaRT employee on 2/2/2023 who took a large metal pole/key, unlocked the cover to the sluice and closed the sluice completely. When the employee was asked who opened it, he replied:

“It was me. I opened it. It was opened on the Tuesday [i.e.31/1/2023] and when I returned on the Wednesday [1/2/2023] there were fish flapping in the entrance to the drain.”

The full text of of the post including an email sent to CRT and videos can be found at:


CaRT response

A week after the incident occurred, CaRT are still not saying why they opened the sluice that led to the fish deaths. Instead it states:

“We are speaking to the Environment Agency and will be conducting a full investigation to understand how this incident occurred. Initial reports indicate that the fish had been channelled out of the reservoir in water being drained from the manmade structure so that statutory engineering works can be completed.”

… and so yet another cover-up begins.

Photos showing anglers attempts to save fish: