England’s waterways clean-up targets set back 36 years the environment

The target to clean up most of England’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters has been pushed back from 2027 to 2063.

None of England’s waterways, including rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters, are currently in good ecological and chemical health, with pollution from water treatment plants and agriculture being the main source of damage. The Environment Agency On Thursday, £5.3 billion was being invested over the next five years to stop further deterioration of the waterway.

But summary documents The plan revealed a goal for all 3,651 water bodies to achieve good chemical and ecological status – a state where they are as close to their natural state as possible – now decades away in 2063.

In the lead up to Brexit, the UK government signed up to the Water Framework Directive, which requires countries to ensure that all their water achieves “good” chemical and environmental status by 2027. The UK government subsequently lowered its target of 75% of waterways reaching a single test of good environmental status by 2027. According to the document, targets for most waterways to achieve good status in both chemical and environmental tests have now been pushed back to 2063.

By 2027, only 4% of current water bodies are on track to improve overall status.

Wildlife Trust The new River Basin Management Plan was the third installment of proposals to restore around 5,000 rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters across England. Two previous plans in 2009 and 2015 were supposed to oversee the recovery of a large portion of these waters between 2015 and 2021 – but the targets were missed and pushed back.

Ali Morse, Water Policy Manager wildlife The new target of 2063 means rivers, lakes and coastal waters will not be healthy in many people’s lifetimes, the trust said. “For too long we have allowed our rivers and lakes to become toxic, destroying aquatic wildlife and habitat.

“We need ambitious targets to repair the massive damage to our natural world. Instead, the government is comfortable kicking the river into the long grass. At this rate, many of us will not see England’s rivers and lakes given a clean bill of health in our lifetime – and that is nothing short of a tragedy.

The latest status of rivers and lakes published by the Environment Agency in 2020 shows that only 16% meet the criteria for good environmental status and no surface water bodies are considered to meet the criteria for achieving good chemical status. Both criteria are required for a waterway to be considered to be in good condition – thus no rivers, lakes or coastal waters are currently judged to be in good condition.

The Environment Agency said on Thursday that investing £5.3 billion in waterways over the next five years in river basin management plans will help protect and improve England’s waters, tackle pollution and the effects of climate change. The plans are legally binding and aim to address the main threats to river and coastal waters which are water company pollution, agricultural pollution, climate change and population growth.

But if no progress is made, the EA says only 6% of rivers, lakes and coastal waters will be in a good ecological state by 2043.

John Leyland, EA Executive Director, said: “While progress has been made to protect and improve England’s waterways, it is clear that substantial time and investment will be required to see the further improvements in our water environment that we all want. “

The £5.3bn action plan to 2027 has already been funded, the EA said. This includes £4.3bn of action by water companies and more than £500m to mitigate the impacts of agriculture on the water environment.

The Wildlife Trust said water demand and pollution pressures were constant; From record-breaking temperatures and low rainfall to excessive use of storm overflows to release raw sewage into rivers even during dry conditions. The latter, the trusts said, was a clear sign that investment in sewerage infrastructure had not kept pace with what was needed.

Morse said a very long road to restoring the river’s health outlined in the new plan was largely due to chemical pollution. Waterways are polluted by chemicals from landfill sites, urban runoff or agriculture, and when these chemicals have already reached the environment, little can be done to remove them, he said.

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