August 23rd, 2023.

Lewes District Green Party release:

Lewes District Green Party has called for an immediate reinstatement of yearly river and sea quality testing following recent reports that annual testing by the Environment Agency will be put back to every six years, prompting anger from local campaigners and politicians.

Alarm has been increasing locally over water quality with several recent protests over the state of local rivers and coasts. Water courses are affected by localised agricultural run-off and by increasing local levels of sewage discharge from water treatment works, which the Green Party argue have failed to keep up with the needs of new housing developments.

Water quality assessments by the Environment Agency are required under the Water Framework Directive adopted by the government. This Directive should have meant that all waterways in England reached ‘good’ status by 2015. The government extended the deadline to achieve ‘good’ status to 2027, but it has been known for some time that England’s rivers would miss even the government’s extended target date.

In fact the most recent figures show that nationally only 14% of English rivers met good ecological status and no English river met good chemical status. In Lewes District not a single local river meets either standard.

Green Party Councillor and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Emily O’Brien, (pictured), said: “It’s appalling that not a single local river meets the target on water quality that the government set itself. And it’s scandalous that having first watered down the target, the government is now trying to hide the very data that shows up its failure.

"We are doing our bit at Lewes District Council where we have now passed four water quality motions and begun a ground-breaking project for river restoration. But there is only so much we can achieve when the government and the privatised water companies are failing catastrophically at their end. We are calling for an immediate reinstatement of proper testing. But that’s only part of the solution. The Green Party believes our privatised water companies must be put back into public hands.”
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