Rivers: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to protect the (1) water level, and (2) quality, of chalk streams and rivers.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The 25 Year Environment Plan and Abstraction Plan set out the Government’s commitment and actions to protect our water environment and the Environment Bill aims to strengthen this.

Abstraction licence changes made by the Environment Agency since 2008 are returning 16 billion litres of water back to chalk streams per year and removed the risk of further 14.9 billion litres being abstracted a year. Further abstraction reductions are planned in the next few years. Additionally, through the Environment Bill the government is taking action to address abstraction that is causing, or is at risk of causing, environmental damage and to remove unused headroom on an abstraction licence where there is no justifiable reason for having it.

A programme of habitat restoration is underway in England, including 11 chalk river Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Since 2011 over 70 kilometres of the chalk stream priority habitat has been improved through 60 projects costing £4.3 million including £1.6m partner contributions.

Since 2006, Catchment Sensitive Farming has provided grants and advice to help reduce pollution from farms within 68 priority catchments, including chalk streams.

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