Today the government has finally shared its response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s utterly damning report on water quality in rivers, originally published in January. More than two months on from the original deadline of March, this response clearly demonstrates that the scale of the problems facing our rivers is not being grasped by government, neither is the need for radical solutions to save them.
Mark Lloyd, CEO of The Rivers Trust, said: “We are very disappointed by this response, in which the government seems to imply that its existing programme of work is sufficient to drive the step change in water quality called for by the Environmental Audit Committee. What is urgently needed is a radical rethink for rivers, rather than a little more of the same.
“An example is the complacent and duplicitous response on the management of the endemic problem of nutrient pollution from agriculture. The Farming Rules for Water have recently been relaxed to allow more spreading of slurry and sewage sludge, but the report claims that this new guidance will ‘raise standards of nutrient pollution management by setting clearer expectations for farmers.’”
Christine Colvin, Director for Communications & Partnerships, added: “The EAC was clear in its recommendations to government, and this response seems to have missed the urgency and level of ambition that the EAC, we and the public know is needed.
“The report drew a line in the sand, acknowledging how far our current system is failing us, nature and future generations. It was ground-breaking in honestly presenting evidence and asking for significant change. This response fails to respond to the challenge, in too many cases citing business as usual. Business as usual got us into this mess. Government is in danger of missing the chance to credibly respond to the evidence and recommendations from the EAC and step up."