As I’m sure all readers are aware, the long awaited Chalk Stream Restoration Strategy was launched recently, with a reception at Tewin Bury Farm on the River Mimram, attended by Defra Minister Rebecca Pow MP, Tony Juniper – Natural England and Emma Boyd-Howard from the Environment Agency
The strategy was written and collated by Charles Rangeley-Wilson, chair of the CaBa Chalk Stream Restoration Group, in consultation with Sarah Powell, Environment Agency – Chalk Stream Manager, Sophie Broadfield and Affie Panayiotou, Defra, Anne Dacey, Environment Agency, Rose O’Neill & Charlotte Rose, Natural England, Fayza Benlamkadem & Magda Styles, Ofwat, Dave Tickner, WWF, Stuart Singleton-White, Angling Trust, Ali Morse, The Wildlife Trusts, Barry Bendall, Rivers Trust, Janina Gray, Salmon & Trout Conservation, Andy Thomas, Wild Trout Trust, Richard Aylard & Yvette de Garis, Thames Water Jake Rigg, Affinity Water, Ian Colley, Wessex Water, James Wallace, Beaver Trust and Jake Fiennes, NFU
In the forward to the report, Charles Rangeley-Wilson says
One big wish – enhanced status for all chalk streams
As will be shown in this report, people who are passionate about chalk streams have asked for one big thing again and again over the last twenty years: that is for the government to give chalk streams a status which reflects the fact that these rivers are not just locally precious, but globally unique, by providing a statutory driver for the investment needed to restore their ecological status.
Over and over, while preparing this report, it has been made clear that when it comes to the investment decisions which determine the health of our chalk streams – in reducing abstraction, or pollution or paying for habitat work – a powerful statutory driver makes all the difference. A statutory driver allows the regulators, industry and NGOs to do what they need to do to bring our chalk streams back to ecological health, not just in a few privileged places, but right across the map.
Rivers are found all over the world, but chalk streams are very largely English. They should be our pride and joy. Enhanced status which drives investment – whatever form that needs to take – will allow them to become so. Statutory protection is this group’s primary recommendation.
We can only hope that full ownership of its recommendations is quickly taken up and that an implementation strategy is urgently formulated and the legislative and regulatory framework refocused accordingly.
It is 7 years since the 2014 WWF report on chalk streams and in that time all of our chalk streams have deteriorated further, either through pollution or the continued effects of abstraction. This report must signal the start of change and not become another can kicking exercise that puts solutions and remedial action further into the future.