More comment on the Environment Agency’s end of year rivers press release…

I don’t know who writes the UK Rivers Network pages but this appeared today on their Home page (scroll down to Latest News):

Sat, 1 Jan 2011: Who’s telling the truth about river quality?: Journalists from virtually every newspaper (and even the better ones) have swallowed whole the latest Environment Agency press release “Noughties were nice years for rivers”, spinning for all its worth during one of the year’s quietest and most news-hungry weekends: “The last decade has been the best for rivers since the industrial revolution”. Anyone with more than a two-day memory will recall recent news stories screaming that three quarters of UK rivers fail to meet the European definition of “good”, while only five meet the highest standard, and the recent stir about bad rivers following on from the Our Rivers poll [Actually, this poll is a fairly silly bit of campaigning designed just to get media attention – Jeremy]. Or how about the National Audit Office stating a few months ago that “The Environment Agency’s approach to tackling diffuse water pollution, such as run-off from agricultural land, has not, to date, proved value for money.” The highly respected, well-informed freshwater team at WWF also seems to take a very different view from the Agency, with its website stating that UK rivers: “are in danger… only 15% of the total length of our rivers are healthy enough to support a vibrant ecosystem, and they’re increasingly under pressure from growing human populations and the effects of climate change.” No cause for celebration or complacency there. Our own state of our rivers page charts the Environment Agency’s and the government’s “unhappy” tendency to be selective and/or economical with the truth about river quality over the last couple of decades. That’s quite enough spin, thanks: yes, let’s have full recognition for all the hard work people (Environment Agency first and foremost) have done to improve our rivers, but also frank and objective recognition of where our rivers are, where they need to be, and what needs to be done to help them.

See: http://www.ukrivers.net/index.html#news

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