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River Protection Plans are 'Woefully Unambitious'

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 "It will take nearly a century to get most of our rivers healthy..." "It will take nearly a century to get most of our rivers healthy..."

Plans published yesterday setting out the future management of rivers, lakes and coastal waters in England are woefully unambitious and fail to tackle the main threats facing them, say WWF-UK and the Angling Trust.


Source: Angling Trust

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive, The Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said:

“While these plans set out clearly the range and scale of the issues affecting rivers across the country, such as farm pollution, key effective solutions to tackle them are absent.  Following our successful legal challenge last year, the government must now assess the use of targeted local regulations to make sure our most precious rivers and wetlands are protected and restored for the benefit of fish, wildlife, people and the rural economy.”

Dominic Gogol, Water Policy Manager, WWF-UK, said:

“By publishing such woefully unambitious plans, Ministers have squandered a huge opportunity. The government’s own data shows that getting three quarters of rivers, lakes and wetlands to good health would boost the economy by £8.5 billion.”

He continued:

“If the government continues at this snail’s pace, it will take nearly a century to get most of our rivers healthy.  This will be devastating for both the people and wildlife that rely on these special places.”

Currently, only 17% of water bodies, such as rivers and lakes are at good health. The new targets released yesterday by the Environment Agency show that by 2021 it intends only 21% to be healthy. This lowly ambition does not even get them back to where they were in 2009.

In terms of the stresses facing our rivers, lakes and coastal waters, the plans show that farming is responsible for nearly a third of all pressures. This includes pollution running off farmland and taking too much water from already stressed rivers. However, the government has failed to work with farmers to effectively tackle these issues whereas the water industry, also a big polluter and responsible for a quarter of all pressures, has had to take significant steps to address them.

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