Chalkstreams

S&TCUK’s Chalkstream Campaign

England contains more than 85% of the world's chalkstreams, so you might think that a Government which once professed to be the ‘greenest ever’ would feel a special responsibility towards protecting these unique rivers. Sadly, you’d be wrong!

Water abstraction takes away a river’s lifeblood, while diffuse pollution - sediment, excess nutrients and toxic chemicals - end up in watercourses and alter the characteristics that make chalkstreams so special. Hopefully, like us, you’ll be utterly frustrated about this lack of political commitment to protecting such an important part of our natural heritage.

The fact is that the Government supports ‘economic growth’ at all costs, regardless of the danger that poses for our rivers and fish stocks.

S&TCUK sees its job as making decision makers face up to their international responsibilities to protect our rivers and fish – or face the legal consequences…

S&TCUK Chalkstream Action:

We consistently lobby Government and its agencies, but lobbying only goes so far. Since 2011, we have taken a more robust approach, involving the collection of sound scientific evidence and using that to support legal challenges. Specifically:

  • In 2012, we submitted a complaint to the European Union under the Habitats Directive that salmon were not achieving their conservation targets on Hampshire’s River Avon. The underlying problems were excessive water abstraction and diffuse pollution, and we used salmon, protected under the Directive, as a proxy for wild brown trout and all other chalkstream wildlife.

  • In 2013, we bought water samplers to monitor phosphate (P) levels in the River Itchen. P increases algae in the water, suppressing early weed growth and limiting cover for fish and their invertebrate food.

  • We produced independent data on Itchen P levels in partnership with Southampton University, supported by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT), and these were largely responsible for the EA issuing ground-breaking new P standards for watercress farms, a major source of P pollution.

We see this a first step towards cleaning up the Itchen’s water quality and, by doing that, putting focus on the need to restore all chalkstreams and other river systems to their former glory, just like the EU Water Framework Directive says we should,

You can help stop the rot in our rivers and give our native fish species a fighting chance! Join S&TCUK today and pressurise the Government into cleaning up our chalkstreams and protecting them for future generations.

We have a major job on our hands to convince Government to provide more resources and management policies to restore our chalkstreams. We have the scientific, legal and lobbying strategy, but we need your support to deliver...