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Country News - 2004

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UK lagging in river pollution clean-up

Wednesday 01 Sept 2004

THE INFLUENTIAL Royal Society for the Protection of Birds today issued a report saying that Britain would not meet new EU standards for cleaner rivers unless more effort was put into cleaning up new pollution threats.

Whilst acknowledging that much has been done to reduce industrial pollution and noting big improvements in sewage treatment, the RSPB – England's biggest conservation body – says that more must be done to reduce pollution from farm fertilisers and pesticides.

Such measures are already in the pipeline under measures to be introduced by Defra in the shake-up of Common Agricultural Payments but they will mean new headaches for farmers.

But unless more is done, the society says that the UK will not meet new EU targets that come into force in ten years time.

The RSPB has been monitoring water quality for many years as it is a key factor in the successful breading of water-fowl and other birds like kingfishers and herons.

It acknowledges that they have been huge improvements since the big clean up was ordered back in 1976. In West and South Yorkshire, virtually dead rivers ravaged by decades of industrial pollution now support large stocks of fish.

But in the Yorkshire Dales, local experts are concerned that fish stocks in the upper reaches of the Aire and parts of the Wharfe seem to be in steep decline. One reason could be that huge floods in recent years have swept many fish downstream.


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