DEFRA Minister announces £6.3 million investment in rivers at WWF event

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey MP, visited WWF’s Living Planet Centre today to address 150 representatives from government agencies, businesses and communities on the successes of working together to protect and restore our rivers and wetlands – outlining new £6.3 million investment.

WWF welcomes this investment in rivers through catchment partnerships and calls on UK Government, businesses and communities to continue to champion the Catchment Based Approach [1] to ensure a healthy future for our rivers.

Woking, Surrey – On Thursday 16th March WWF brought together 150 representatives from government agencies, businesses and communities to celebrate five years of the Catchment Based Approach which has delivered improvements to river health and management across England and Wales.

There are over 100 Catchment Partnerships throughout the UK. This is a community-led approach that engages people and groups from across society to take action to improve water quality.

The event highlighted that there is still more to be done and the Catchment Based Approach is critical to achieving healthy rivers now and for future generations to enjoy. Minister Coffey announced £6.3 million of investment to support further action.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

“The catchment based approach makes a real difference to our precious natural environment by supporting rivers, rebuilding habitats and protecting local wildlife.

“This excellent work, such as planting trees along riversides, tackling sediment erosion and restoring rivers to their natural state, is why we are committing £6.3 million to projects over the next year to help deliver further improvements to our rivers and the landscapes around them.”

Tanya Steele CEO, WWF commented:

“We were delighted to have Dr Thérèse Coffey visit our office today and we are excited by the new £6.3 million investment to help protect our rivers and chalk streams. Globally, fish and wildlife living in rivers and other freshwater environments have declined by 81 per cent between 1970 and 2012. We need urgent action to address this; today’s announcement is welcome support.”

Dr Therese Coffey MP and Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF
Dr Therese Coffey MP and Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF

Delegates at the event heard that:

  • Only 17% rivers and streams in England are at good ecological status
  • The water industry is responsible for 1/4 of all reasons for not achieving good status
  • Agriculture is responsible for nearly 1/3 of all reasons for not achieving good status
  • The key issues facing rivers are abstraction and pollution from sewers and farms
  • There are 108 catchment partnerships across England and Wales and over 1500 organisations involved in the Catchment Based Approach

Delegates are signing up to the WWF WaterLIFE declaration – which defines a shared vision for healthy rivers, fair water use and sustainable supply chains, and sets out three principles – based on partnership, equity and collaboration that are essential to deliver the vision.