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No cheer for England’s environment this Christmas

…Country’s rivers condemned by lack of ambition says RSPB

New government plans for the clean up of England’s rivers, lakes and estuaries have been condemned as woefully inadequate by the RSPB. Just 23 per cent of the country’s water bodies are in good ecological condition - the environmental standard set by Europe - with the main problems listed as phosphate pollution and a lack of fish in many rivers.

Ministers had pledged to try to have all the country’s water bodies in good ecological condition by 2015, with responsibility for the improvements given to the Environment Agency. The Agency has now published draft plans setting out what will be done to cut pollution and increase wildlife, but the RSPB has been left dismayed by their lack of ambition. Under the proposed course of action, the number of water bodies in good condition would rise by just five per cent to 28 per cent by 2015. Rob Cunningham, Head of Water Policy at the RSPB, said:

This is not much of a Christmas present for England’s waters or for the wildlife they support. The Environment Agency appear to have spent eight years failing to plan and are now planning to fail. What is more, these draft plans do not explain why the ambition to tackle problems is so low. In most cases, we are told work would be too difficult or expensive, but we are not told why or what needs to be done.

A six-month consultation on the draft River Basin Management Plans started this week.Rob Cunningham said:
We need people to respond to this consultation and to say loud and clear that the Environment Agency’s plans are not good enough. While the plans are short on information, it is clear many rivers and lakes will simply be allowed to remain in poor condition because it is apparently too difficult or expensive to clean them up. The truth is these measures have been costed using an abstract model, rather than being considered against local circumstances. That will be unacceptable to many people, most of whom place a higher value on their natural environment than the Environment Agency plans appear to.

4th July 2014