Grayling fish underwater

A cautious welcome, but the devil is in the details

We are cautiously welcoming progress towards our vision of wild, healthy, natural rivers. 

Emily Cooper


We are definitely not at our final destination, but last night, two crucial steps were taken in our journey towards healthier rivers:

  1. The government announced that they will introduce a new duty enshrined in law to ensure water companies secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows.
  2. A strengthened majority voted in favour of the Duke of Wellington’s amendment to the Environment Bill in the House of Lords tonight (213 in favour, 60 against)

We welcome the determination shown in the Lords. Each of these steps represents a significant change in attitude and ambition for the health of our rivers. However, it’s important to note that while this battle has been won, the war is far from over. The devil will be in the details, and we are anxiously awaiting the specific wording of this new clause to assess how powerful it will be.

The real victory lies not in politics; it lies in the arms of the people who assembled in defense of our rivers. It lies in the refusal to accept a future where rivers are routinely polluted with sewage; it lies in the determination of those who did not relent until their voices were heard. We had tremendous collaboration with Salmon and Trout Conservation, the Angling Trust and Surfers Against Sewage, as well as with parliamentarians such as Philip Dunne, who strongly support our vision of cleaner rivers. The lesson we learned? Our voices are stronger together.

At The Rivers Trust, we have never seen so many people unite for our rivers. We have been genuinely moved by your efforts—and make no mistake, these new amendments are thanks to you. Your conviction has, quite literally, changed the course of rivers. Through this collective action, we hope that these precious habitats are looking towards a brighter future.

We want to ask you to stick with us for the rest of this journey because our rivers are worth fighting for. We will continue to bring the best available evidence into the debate, to make sure that these issues are taken seriously. Most of all, we will continue to support you in keeping up the pressure on our MPs to vote for new legislation that will make a difference to the health of our rivers.

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