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.
In the week the Environment Agency released the Catchment Data figures, Ribble Rivers Trust staff continued to work on what is thought to be the longest fish pass in England, finished a bypass channel fish pass and are in the process of removing a fishing weir by hand. In the upcoming weeks, another three fish passage projects will begin – all of which will help to create a more natural environment in which wildlife can thrive.
And Ribble Rivers Trust’s work goes beyond habitat improvements: education and engagement is also one of its core activities. Winter 2020 will see seven Lancashire primary schools working with the Trust on a programme designed to spark a passion for nature in the river guardians of the future.
The Trust’s plans for the future include:
- the delivery of the Lancashire Woodland Connect campaign
- a successful Green Recovery Fund bid in partnership with Lune Rivers Trust and Wyre Rivers Trust
- specialist in-depth education programmes for schools
- ongoing engagement with the farming community to improve land management and flood mitigation and reduce diffuse pollution
- an ambitious flagship health and wellbeing project
Notes to editors
Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) is a local environmental charity established in 1997 to protect and restore the rivers, streams and watercourses within the Ribble catchment and to raise public awareness of the value of our local rivers and streams. The Ribble catchment is the area of land that is drained by the River Ribble and its major tributaries; the Hodder, Calder and Darwen. It covers a varied landscape, from the rural hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the source of the River Ribble, to major urban areas of Lancashire including Blackburn, Burnley and Preston.
Members of the public and the business community can support our work through volunteering, becoming a supporter, and donating to our campaigns. For more information please contact 01200 444452 or visit www.ribbletrust.org.uk
The Environment Agency is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, which works to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development.
Environment Agency water quality data for the River Ribble can be found here:
https://environment.data.gov.uk/catchment-planning/ManagementCatchment/3070/Summary along with a breakdown of the key issues preventing waters reaching ‘good’ status in the Ribble Catchment here” https://environment.data.gov.uk/catchment-planning/summarypages/summary/ManagementCatchment/3070