An evening with the Minister

Speeches at the launch of the Blueprint for Water campaign. Left to right: Mike Clarke of RSPB, Richard Benyon (Minister with responsibility for water and wildlife in Defra), Martin Hopwood (Lib Dem MP who hosted the meeting)

I spent Tuesday evening at the re-launch of the Blueprint for Water, the campaign being run by environmental organisations to call for improved protection for freshwaters.

My colleagues in the NGO movement – everyone from the Angling Trust to WWF (sadly the Zoological Society isn’t part of this campaign) – were congratulated by Richard Benyon who’s responsibilities include water and wildlife.

Richard has recently made what I think is one of the most apt, and accurate, decriptions of the state of our rivers: he commented a little while ago on Radio 4’s Farming Today programme that rivers were improving ‘at a snails pace’.

I think he was absolutely right.

The only thing is he might have added is that ponds in the countryside (at least in England and Wales) are not improving at all – on average they have got worse since the late 1990s. In this case the snail is going backwards.

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