Envirotec

Our rivers: A call for action

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Following the Environment Agency’s release of figures in late March revealing that just 17% of England’s rivers were in good health, the Blueprint for Water coalition is urging communities across England to make a stand and speak up for the rivers, lakes, wetlands and beaches that they love.

Environment Agency improvements in gathering evidence have led to a truer picture of the health of England’s rivers, which is far worse than previous official figures suggested.

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Blueprint for Water, a coalition of 16 environmental and fishing organisations, is urging everyone to respond to the EA’s current consultation on River Basin Management Plans, which determine how our waterways will be managed over the next six years.

The group has developed the Save Our Waters website to enable people to respond to the consultation and help these watery places. Rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, estuaries and beaches are essential for people and wildlife; not only are they used for pleasure (walking, canoeing, fishing), but they’re also essential for drinking water, sanitation and flood management.

Janina Gray, Head of Science and Environmental Policy for the Salmon & Trout Association and Blueprint for Water Chair, said: “The figures released today are shocking and show us that things are worse than we thought. Just 17% of England’s rivers are in good health. This is unacceptable and threatens wildlife and livelihoods. It is more important than ever that everyone gets involved with this consultation. We’re asking everyone, as they plan their Easter break, to take two minutes to respond via the Save Our Waters website.”

Rose O’Neill, Water Policy Manager, WWF, and member of Blueprint for Water, said: “It’s clear that we are failing our rivers and the wildlife they impact. We need to see government action to restore these rivers, for example by reducing abstraction and tackling pollution from sewage works, farms and roads. There’s still time to add your voice, but I’d urge everyone to respond quickly as the consultation ends in two weeks.”

Rob Cunningham, Head of Water Policy, RSPB, and member of Blueprint for Water, said: “We shouldn’t ignore great efforts by wildlife groups, rivers trusts, water companies and others to make real improvements to our rivers but we clearly need a step change if we are going to make meaningful progress on diffuse pollution, abstraction and physical damage and that needs government to take action.”

Every response on the Save Our Waters website is sent directly to the Environment Agency. It also offers an option for those who have a little more time to contribute their views. For more details, visit www.saveourwaters.org.uk.

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