Feargal Sharkey demands immediate action to restore rivers back to sustainable flows during The Rivers Trust Autumn Conference 2018

Jayne Mann


Punk-star turned fisheries chairman and environmental activist, Feargal Sharkey, kicked off The Rivers Trust Autumn conference, with a powerful keynote address about the urgency and action needed to save the future of our rivers. During the conference, held Wednesday 21st November in Bristol, Feargal referenced the urgency required to ensure a future for our chalk-streams and rivers. “Our chalk-streams do not have another two decades of this, they cannot wait” Addressing the Environment Agency directly, Feargal demanded that the agency should act immediately to restore failing chalk-streams in North London, saying: “The environment now demands that you bring to bare all of the legislative might, and power, responsibility and authority, that you have and that you now urgently review every single relevant abstraction licence, with a view to revoke every single one of them. We need to restore our rivers back to sustainable flows.” He finished his passionate and eloquent speech with: “It is now time to put the river back into our rivers, it is now time to let our rivers flow, and give them the basic tool and necessity they need so that nature itself can rewild, rekindle, revitalise those rivers, and that basic ingredient is water. It is now time that we recognise the precious, beautiful, wonderous, joyous, glamorous thing that is the 220-odd chalk streams that we have temporarily been given guardianship of and that we now need to respect and support. But to do all of that will take vision, ambition, determination and most of all leadership.” Over 160 delegates attended the conference in Bristol to discuss ‘Can the Government’s 25-year environment plan save our rivers’. Other speakers included Bristol Water plc, Environment Agency, Nestlé, as well as a number of Rivers Trust representatives and a video presentation from Professor Dieter Helm CBE. Arlin Rickard, Chief Executive of The Rivers Trust, said “The conference was a real success. This was the third Rivers Trust conference to be at full capacity and we are delighted that so many people joined us to discuss whether the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan can save our rivers and the vital role Rivers Trusts need to play in its delivery.” The day was co-hosted by Bristol Avon Rivers Trust and Bristol Water. Presentations have been uploaded to the event page. Watch the playlist below which features a short snippet of Feargal's speech, Professor Dieter Helm CBE's presentation on the role of Rivers Trusts in 25-Year Environment Plan and natural capital here, and people's response to "what does a better river environment look like to you, and how do we get there?"
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