WWF seeks political focus on river health

WWF has launched a week of events in Parliament to put the environment at the heart of political debate.

Rivers took centre stage last Tuesday when the group opened an exhibition in the busy thoroughfare of Upper Waitling Hall to draw attention to the issues English and Welsh water systems are facing, such as growing pollution from rural areas and sewage run off. This followed the publication the previous week of Flushed Away, a WWF report that argued 80% of rivers in England and Wales are unhealthy, and up to 40% are polluted with sewage.

WWF is calling for the government to tackle river pollution and over-abstraction, as well as to put the environment centre stage as EU exit is negotiated to safeguard it for generations to come.

Campaign manager, Barbara Cornejo Sesnic, commented: “The wildlife that lives in our rivers is in crisis. According to the 2016 Living Planet report, populations of river and other freshwater wildlife have declined by 81% since 1970, faster than any other species group on the planet, and 13% of freshwater species are threatened with extinction in the UK. Despite big improvements over recent decades, four out of five rivers in England and Wales are failing to reach the required health standards. This is a result of pollution from farms and sewage, and unsustainable abstraction.”