GOVERNMENT CAN DO BETTER. MUCH BETTER.
Urgent action to preserve and restore aquatic environments is needed NOW, say angling organisations S&TA and ACA
The Blueprint for Water is a manifesto for root and branch change in the way we manage water. It was published a year ago today by a coalition of leading environmental organisations, including S&TA (Salmon & Trout Association) and the ACA (Anglers’ Conservation Association), urging the Government to institute a policy of radical reform. It proposes an alternative vision for water management, to ensure that rivers keep flowing, wetlands and ponds remain full, pollution is prevented and punished, and aquatic wildlife habitats restored.
That was a year ago, at the end of a summer so hot and dry that drought threatened most of the south-east.
One year on, and we have seen the country ravaged by the worst floods in modern history. Yet progress in protecting our aquatic environment is limited and slow. Anglers, in particular, are dismayed by the lack of will and action in many key areas, notably:
· river restoration from source to sea;
· retaining water in floodplains and wetlands;
· regulation and investment in intermittent sewage discharges which overflow directly into rivers;
· control of diffuse pollution and prosecution of offenders of direct pollution.
“Britain’s 4 million anglers are very upset when they see the rivers, lakes and canals we know and love continuing to suffer from pollution,” says Mark Lloyd, Executive Director of the ACA. “We are exasperated when companies which turn over millions, or even billions, get fined a few thousand pounds for causing devastating pollution which can wipe out fish and insect life. We want to see more and tougher action to stop contaminants getting into our water bodies, rather than the cut backs in funding for enforcement experienced in recent years.”
Paul Knight, Executive Director of the S&TA, declares: “We are running out of time and the choice is stark – either Government puts into place a vigorous plan of action to protect and manage our aquatic environment sustainably and holistically, or we will all suffer from degraded waterways, rivers, lakes and streams unable to cope with the extremes climate change is already causing.”
Government must make crucial decisions in 2008 affecting the future of water management, as an unprecedented series of policy decisions and reviews are due:
Defra is publishing its Water Strategy;
The Environment Agency is issuing its draft plans for delivering the Water Framework Directive for England and Wales;
Water companies are drawing up their investment plans for the next 5 years (and their strategy for the next 25 years);
There will be a review of the Common Agricultural Policy.
We call on the Government to transform water management and conservation. The Blueprint for Water provides a detailed and pragmatic consensus view as to how this can be achieved.