Government announces new £1.6M catchment project
The government has launched a new partnership scheme to improve river health and water quality in England. The £1.6M project, called the Catchment Based Approach, is aimed at encouraging local communities and environmental groups to take on more responsibility for improving the health of their local rivers, as well as the surrounding natural environment and wildlife.
The scheme follows a series of successful regional pilots that took place across the country including the Norfolk Coast, Bristol Avon and Poole. In Bristol, local authorities worked together to introduce new measures to reduce the need for dredging the River Avon and save taxpayers’ money.
The scheme has been designed to ensure that local projects are targeted to address the specific water and natural environment needs in each catchment. The creation of these catchment groups will be helped by the initial funding. There will be more than 80 of these catchments across England, supported by local, voluntary partnerships.
At Singlers Marsh, work has been undertaken to improve the flow of the River Mimram, as well as removing accumulated silt from the river bed so that fish and invertebrates can access the river bed. This is the type of approach the government would like to see.
Launching the scheme, natural environment minister Richard Benyon said: "Rivers are the lifeblood of our country. They give us the water we need for our daily lives, and sustain our wildlife. That is why this new scheme is so incredibly important.
"Our pilot programme achieved great results and this new funding will help more people take action to improve the health of their local rivers. Ensuring we have enough water, not just for us, but for future generations is an issue of huge importance. Everyone has a part to play and can make a real difference."
Miles Foulger, environment strategy manager at Yorkshire Water, who was involved with a pilot project, said: "Yorkshire Water is proud to have had the opportunity to pilot the government’s new Catchment Based Approach as part of our ambition to achieve excellent catchments, rivers and coasts. Through the Don Network initiative we have built lasting partnerships with a range of stakeholders across South Yorkshire, and as a result we are already starting to see new projects to improve water quality come to life."
Debbie Jones, Environment Manager at the Environment Agency, said: "We are delighted to be part of this joined-up approach to restore our rivers. Some excellent work has been carried out on the Mimram and the Beane already, and we would like to thank all partners, organisations and volunteers involved for the great work that has been done so far.
"It is a great thing to be in the position to say that our rivers are the healthiest they have been for two decades, but we are doing even more to further improve water quality and local biodiversity.
"Local people can help their rivers by being careful about their water usage and by installing water meters, then we can continue to work with water companies and communities to reduce the impact of abstraction on our chalk streams. Farmers, businesses and water companies can also still do more to reduce pollution to our rivers."
The EA will work with local groups to ensure the lead for each Catchment Partnership is agreed collaboratively.
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