More protection for chalk streams demanded

Friday 31 May 2013

The Chilterns Conservation  Board is one of many environmental organisations supporting the ‘Charter for Chalk Streams’ which was launched on May 23rd in Hertfordshire. 

National wildlife and conservation organisations have come together in an alliance with local river restoration groups to press the government and its agencies to radically reform water policies to enable England’s endangered chalk streams to return to good health. The Charter follows on from a special summit last December organised in Hampshire by the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association and is supported by WWF-UK, The Wildlife Trusts and the Rivers Trust along with local fisheries and river groups from Dorset to Yorkshire.

Chalk streams are recognised as a unique global asset providing a pristine environment for wildlife with rich clean water and high quality habitat. Some 85% of the worlds chalk streams are located in England. Only a handful receive the high levels of protection that their conservation status requires. Those in the Chilterns are amongst the worst-affected by over-abstraction of groundwater.

The Charter calls for a range of measures, including the introduction of compulsory water metering to reduce waste and cut unsustainable abstractions. The demands include:

  •  A national designation of all chalk streams as Special Areas of Conservation  
  • Reform of National Planning Rules to allow for meaningful objection to developments on grounds of lack of water resources  
  • A primary duty on the water regulator  Ofwat to promote environmental sustainability 
  • Compulsory water metering and a national education campaign to reduce water demand 
  • Less reliance on groundwater sources and clear targets for replacing aquifer abstraction with surface supply and storage chalk streams charter launch

The campaigners have already presented the Charter to Fisheries and Environment minister Richard Benyon and are now planning to try and secure a parliamentary debate on its recommendations. MPs with one or more of the 161 chalk streams in their constituencies will be invited to pledge their support for the Charter for Chalk Streams.

The Charter can be downloaded here:

Charter for Chalk Streams


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