Today, 24 September 2020, sees the closing date of an Environment Agency consultation, Challenges & Choices, that seeks views on the challenges our waters face and the choices and changes we all need to make to help tackle those challenges, with the offer to respondents to help shape the management of the water environment.
WTT’s full response is HERE, offering an on-the-ground view from our 1000 or so days out on the river each year, working on hundreds of kilometres of river. What we’ve said in this consultation reiterates what we (and many others) have been saying directly to Government and the regulators for many years.
Among the highlights, we said:
- our natural water resources are in jeopardy from the way our catchments are managed and a failure to protect sensitive watercourses from damage by over-abstraction, physical modification, land drainage and pollution
- we believe that one of the greatest threats is the current lack of regulation and the hands-off approach to the enforcement of existing legislation
- much of southern and eastern England suffers from water scarcity and increasing human population; thus, we have an existential water crisis. Water is too cheap and undervalued; consumption rates remain crazily high and solutions to alternative supplies are progressing too slowly
- far greater investment and expediency is required in the delivery of major improvement to sewage treatment and regulation of discharges to watercourses; it appears to be down to community groups, volunteers and charities to identify the true scale of sewage pollution in our fresh and coastal waters, with little enforcement by regulators. There is evidence that self-monitoring is open to abuse by some in the water industry.
- the proposed Environmental Land Management System (ELMS) presents an amazing opportunity for us to reward farmers for their great work and make space for our rivers, bringing huge environmental and societal gains.