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Pollution report is much-needed ‘wake-up call’ for urgent action on the Ribble - Environment Chief - Ribble Rivers Trust

September 22, 2020 - Chief executive of Ribble Rivers Trust joins demands for urgent action after new research showed recent improvements in water quality had stalled.

The latest set of figures released by the Environment Agency revealed that just 15 per cent of England’s rivers achieved the results needed to reach ‘good’ ecological status - an increase of just 1 per cent from similar surveys conducted in 2016 and 2019.

In the Ribble Catchment, the 96 rivers, canals and lakes assessed followed a similar trend with NONE meeting the chemical standards required, and 76 per cent failing to meet ‘good’ ecological status.

Additionally, for the first time, NONE of England’s rivers achieved ‘good’ chemical status. This is down from 97 per cent in 2016’s results – although changes have been made to the process with new, more stringent standards. The results suggest that pollution from sewage discharge, chemicals and agriculture are the main factors impacting river health.

In addition to highlighting the full spectrum of environmental challenges facing our rivers, the data also highlight the most urgent priorities for tackling pollution at its source to protect our rivers from polluters.

Jack Spees CEO of Ribble Rivers Trust said: “The results published by the Environment Agency should be the wake-up call that not only is change needed for our rivers, but our environment as a whole. Rivers are the best indicator of how we are using our whole environment and this doesn’t paint a pretty picture. But it’s not too late. Working in close collaboration with the Environment Agency, we have delivered a lot of improvement work in recent years and our monitoring shows that these activities have seen two of our water bodies return to good ecological status over the last three years. Our rivers belong to everyone, they are the blood in the veins of the rich habitats they support, and together we can protect them, for wildlife and people. But we need to do more if we are to reverse the decline. This means everyone doing their bit to help, because together we can, and need to, make a difference for where we live and work, and the environment.”

Despite the negative national picture, the Ribble Catchment has seen significant improvements to its rivers, landscape and habitat thanks to Ribble Rivers Trust and their partners.

Working alongside the Environment Agency, the Trust’s extensive annual monitoring programmes, combined with project-specific river monitoring, have shown that in many places wildlife has responded well to the Trust’s work, with increases in species numbers and range, and habitat health.

Posted on: 23 September 2020

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