Rivers: Standards

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th November 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of English rivers have been assessed as being of a good ecological standard; and how has this percentage changed over the last three years.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The most recent full assessment of the ecological status of all water bodies in England was made in 2019, when 14% of rivers were reported at good ecological status. This proportion was unchanged from the previous assessment reported in 2016.

Pressures on our water environment have increased significantly in recent years, including due to population growth and climate change. The Environment Agency and Defra work together closely on addressing the pressures that prevent water bodies in England from meeting ‘good’ status. Improving water quality is a priority for the Government and we are committed to the ambition of the 25 Year Environment Plan supported by at least one legally binding water target in the Environment Bill.

Through regulation, enforcement, financial incentives and educational schemes, we are improving poor farming practices which lead to water pollution. Water improvement is also supported by significant funding from water companies, required in their statutory duties. In the current Price Review period (2020-25) they have committed £7.1 billion towards environmental improvements.

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