Cleaning Up our Rivers

At B&NES Full council on Thursday 24th March 2022 the Liberal Democrats brought a motion on the need to clean up our Rivers. Please see below the full statement I gave on this from the BathNes Green Party.

Joanna Wright on the canal with local residents concerned about the polluted water fountain they regularly use for drinking water

Cleaning up our Rivers Motion

The Green Party has for many years had policies in place with regard to protecting our landscape in all its forms, and publically states:

“Only after the last tree has been cut down,

Only after the last river has been poisoned,

Only after the last fish has been caught,

Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

Data clearly shows that every single one of the rivers, lakes and streams that has been monitored in England is now polluted.

The Green Party supports this Liberal Democrat motion. We are cognizant that this motion is led by the National Liberal Democrat party who are chasing the blue vote.  Many Tory voters are aghast that privatised water companies are discharging raw sewage into our rivers. Dirty rivers are electorally toxic for the Conservative government. A government who recently rejected an amendment to the environment bill which would have curbed waste discharges into English rivers and streams.

So who in the main is dumping sewage into rivers.

It is clear that planning permission for industrial livestock units is allowing extra excrement into our water systems. Local Authorities are granting these planning permissions and the Environment Agency is issuing environmental permits. In many cases no environmental decisions are made at all, because a high threshold is required for planning permission for industrial livestock.

Permission is not needed for units of less than 40,000 chickens. Now that’s a great deal of bird poo. This is regulatory failure. 

Cleaning up our rivers is important for public health and requires the involvement of many including water companies, farmers, land-owners, developers, businesses and local councils.

It recently came to my attention that a water source on the canal in Bathwick ward has not been fit for drinking since 2012.  B&NES Council has been aware of this issue since 2012.  A public Protection officer informed the Canal and River Trust of the presence of pathogenic bacteria, indicating faecal contamination.  Yet after 10 years the health of residents this water source is still not safe.

It states on the B&NES website that the council is a member of the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership which includes Wessex Water, the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council and is working closely with partners to identify and deliver collaborative solutions to improve water quality and improve the water environment for people and wildlife. Further that the Council has a role to play in educating and raising awareness of the many individual behavioural changes that citizens can make to lessen their impact on water pollution and harm to the water environment.

The Green Party will be supporting this motion, in the hope that it is more than lip service to chasing Tory voters. That this Liberal Democrat council act now to put in place safe drinking water to support public health for local residents.

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