Action over threat to rivers

ACTION has been promised after three rivers in Comet country were named in a list of 10 rivers across England and Wales where not enough is being done to tackle environmental pressures.

In a report issued by Our Rivers – a campaign group made up of the RSPB, WWF, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association – the River Beane, River Mimram and River Ivel are all under threat.

The report states that the Environment Agency confirmed problems of over abstraction from the River Beane, which rises east of Stevenage, over a decade ago, but nothing has been done.

It also claims issues of over abstraction from the River Mimram, which rises north of Whitwell, were identified in the early 1990s, and little improvement has been made since.

According to the group, pollution from sewage, roads and farming leave the River Ivel, which rises north of Baldock and flows through Stotfold, Arlesey and Henlow, grey and cloudy after rainfall. Non-native species like the North American crayfish are also taking their toll on wildlife.


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“The entire river fails to meet the Water Framework Directive’s ‘good’ status, and with the Environment Agency’s River Basin Management Plan not including any actions for improvement by 2015, it looks like nothing is going change,” says the Our Rivers report.

This week, the Environment Agency told The Comet that all 21,000 water abstraction licences in England and Wales will be reviewed as part of a multi-billion pound programme to protect and improve rivers and lakes.

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Those that could be causing environmental damage will be changed.

“Many licences were granted decades ago and did not impose the strict conditions that we have in place today,” explained an Environment Agency spokesman.

“Our comprehensive analysis shows that four per cent of rivers in England and Wales are currently at high risk of unsustainable abstraction and tackling these is a priority for the organisation.”

Dave Stimpson, chairman of the River Beane Restoration Association, said: “It’s good news and it’s about time.

“Now there’s a new emphasis and pressure, partly due to the EU as they have higher standards than the UK. Eighty per cent of UK rivers don’t meet these standards.

“It’s been going on for an awfully long time.”

Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said: “I think it is great news that they are going to look at over abstraction.

“It’s something Oliver Heald, MP for North East Herts, and I have been campaigning for for a number of years.

“The River Beane runs dry for many months of the year.”

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