The Angling Trust is backing a major new campaign spearheaded by WWF-UK to press government for better protection for our precious rivers from over-abstraction and sewage pollution. The Nature Needs You campaign, which is supported by around 40 individual rivers trusts, asks people to take action to help safeguard our rivers.
Fewer than one in five UK rivers currently meet Good Ecological Status standards required by the European Union’s Water Framework Directive and nearly 25% are at risk of over-abstraction. As a result, half of all freshwater wildlife, including many fish species, are in decline and 13% are threatened with extinction.
On the campaign website there is a simple form that allows users to send a message directly to their recently elected MP. The ask is for him or her to put pressure on the new Environment Secretary Michael Gove to deliver on the government’s long-overdue promise to reform the outdated water abstraction regime and to exert stricter controls over sewer overflows. There is also an interactive river map through which people can find out the state of their local river or stream.
The key campaign objectives are for the Environment Secretary to:
1. Safeguard nature by ensuring European water and environmental directives are transferred into law in England and Wales and mechanisms are established to enforce implementation post-Brexit.
2. Deliver immediate action – before leaving the EU – to ensure that the legal deadline to achieve good ecological status in English and Welsh rivers by 2027 is met.
3. Mandate water companies to set out long-term wastewater plans to ensure sewage stops polluting our rivers.
4. Empower the environmental regulators to ensure all abstraction is limited to sustainable levels.
5. Publish a strong 25-year plan for the environment which includes committing to new water legislation for England and Wales.
Despite only being launched last month the Nature Needs You campaign has already generated an enormous response. As of the 13th July, a total of 3,797 letters had been sent to 576 individual MPs in England and Wales, with at least one MP writing directly to Michael Gove asking for the campaign aims to be addressed.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, said: “We have worked very closely with WWF over the past decade and we are delighted to support this excellent initiative to raise water issues up the political agenda. We need to show elected politicians that their constituents really care about the state of our precious water environment. This country has been lurching from drought to floods, and experiencing a loss of aquatic wildlife, for far too long. The government must act urgently to implement long-promised initiatives to tackle over-abstraction and pollution, particularly in light of plans to build a million new homes and in the context of a changing climate.”
Barbara Cornejo Sesnic, Campaign Manager at WWF-UK, said: “Nature Needs You is a WWF UK priority campaign and we are deeply grateful for the strong support shown by the Angling Trust and Rivers Trust. Sewage pollution and unsustainable abstraction are not only affecting our cherished wildlife that relies on healthy water to survive, such as fish populations and the iconic water vole, but also people and businesses too. This is why it’s vital that anglers and local communities get involved in the campaign by writing or directly talking to their MPs to tell them why rivers are so important. Hosting an event next to the river during the summer where anglers, local supporters and MPs can gather together is a great way to start the conversation.
Protecting and restoring our precious rivers is a task of us all, and #NatureNeedsYou to make your voice heard!”
Anglers can get involved in the campaign by going to the Nature Needs You webpage or by requesting one of the specially designed River Engagement Packs. These packs contain postcards to send to MPs, a fold-out guide, a more detailed pamphlet that explains the issues and how they can be resolved, and an A3 poster to be displayed in riverside shops, cafes, nature reserves or any other waterside establishment.
The River Engagement Packs can be obtained by contacting Angling Trust Campaigns Officer James Champkin at email@example.com or on 07855 963128. A pack will then be sent out to you.