Degraded Chalk Stream Environments

Part of Petition - Shelton Road Planning Application – in the House of Commons at 8:20 pm on 22nd July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Conservative, Chesham and Amersham 8:20 pm, 22nd July 2019

I think the points made by colleagues across the House have been very accurate in that we are busy lecturing other people around the world about how they should save their environment, but we are not actually looking over our shoulders at our own backyard, which is deteriorating.

The point that we have 85% of the world’s chalk streams is not lost, particularly in the south-east, because about a fifth of those are in the Thames Water region. The combination we have talked about—the climate and the geology of where these chalk streams are—means that they have the most amazing characteristics. They support special wildlife habitats and species, including things such as the brown trout and the water vole. Chalk streams are really important not just for angling, but because they are fed by groundwater aquifers. That means the water is clear, pure and inviting, which is of course why the water companies always wants to take water from them.

Jon Cruddas spoke about the Thames Water briefing that was put out. He said he was struck by the predicted shortfall of 350 million litres of water a day between the amount of water available and the amount we will need by 2045. Population growth, climate change and environmental regulations will dramatically affect our demand and need for water. I echo the call made by the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington, because unless we build in safeguards and build in the reuse of water, we are going to find ourselves in a desert and in a drought like no drought we have ever seen. We take water for granted in this country; it is such a shame that we have that attitude. We will have to change it if we are going to preserve our environment, particularly our chalk streams.