The Guardian view on rivers: delaying pollution controls will only lead to harm | Editorial

12. prosinece 2022 20:30


Allowing farmers to continue dumping slurry is short-sighted. If ministers want nature to recover, they must regulate England's rivers are in a shocking, filthy state, with every single one failing the last set of quality tests carried out in 2019 under EU rules. This is bad for biodiversity, above all the fish, mammals such as otters, and other species that live in rivers. And it is bad for people, to whom the depletion of nature poses an increasingly grave global threat. There could be no good time for the UK government to announce that it is abandoning the principle of a legal target for river health, and postponing a deadline for agricultural run-off reduction by three years (from 2037 to 2040). It is difficult to imagine a worse moment for such an announcement than the final week of a crucial UN biodiversity conference (Cop15) in Montreal.Yet this is the decision that is expected to be made by the environment secretary, Thér?se Coffey, in the next few days. And while some farmers may welcome the further license to pollute waterways that they are likely to be granted, others, along with civil society groups and naturalists, will oppose what amounts to environmental negligence. The Conservatives' atrocious record in office over the past 12 years with regard to water has recently come under sharpened scrutiny. Any further weakening of regulation can only strengthen the sense that a vital natural resource has been catastrophically mismanaged - while the companies that control it have been enabled to enrich themselves, and their investors. Continue reading...


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