River campaigners are heavily critical of Government plans to revive Britain’s waterways, and, last week, called an emergency meeting with minister Huw Irranca-Davies in a last-ditch attempt to improve the paper before it’s submitted to the European Commission on December 22. The Our Rivers Campaign-set up by the RSPB, WWF UK, the Angling Trust and the Association of Rivers Trusts- believes the Environment Agency’s (EA) paper, The Water Framework Directive, ‘lacks ambition’ and is a ‘missed opportunity’.
‘These plans are supposed to provide a blueprint Campaigners slam river plan for bringing the standard of our rivers up to an acceptable level, but there isso much vital information missing that it’s difficult to have confidence in them,’ says the RSPB’s Mark Avery. ‘The publication is like a crossword with most of the clues missing.’ Mark Lloyd of the Angling Trust adds: ‘The plans fail to capture the knowledge of those who have an intimate understanding of rivers-much of the information is simply incorrect.
If the Government fails to make major changes, it will have blown it.’ A recent EA assessment of UK rivers revealed that 74% of British waterways are failing. The Government’s
Flood and Water Management Bill has also come under fire. The NFU says it’s ‘power heavy and duty light’. Meurig Raymond says: ‘We believe there is a strong sense of disconnection between the EA and those on the ground who are affected by flooding.The EA must publish its maintenance schedules and risk assessments.’