River Basin Planning – ‘Challenges and Choices’ Consultation

The Environment Agency are seeking your views on the challenges our waters face and the choices and changes we all need to make to help tackle those challenges. The EA explain:

We urgently need to protect and improve our waters and find a better balance that meets the needs of people and nature. Water keeps us alive, drives our economy and sustains wildlife. Our rivers, lakes, canals, coasts and groundwater, and the essential services they provide society, are worth billions of pounds to the UK economy.

However, wildlife and the benefits we get from our waters are threatened by the damage we are causing through development, industry, flood protection and agriculture. The climate crisis and a growing population are adding to these pressures and without concerted action will lead to irreparable harm to our planet, ourselves and future generations.

This consultation explains why water is such a vital resource. It describes the challenges that threaten the water environment. It explores how we can work together to manage our waters and looks at who should pay for the actions needed. It covers all the river basin districts (RBDs) that are entirely in England, and the Severn and Northumbria RBDs which lie partly in Wales and Scotland respectively.

By responding to this consultation you will be helping to shape the management of the water environment. The information gathered through this consultation will help us update the current river basin management plans, starting with the publication of draft plans in 2020.

We will also use your responses to help us consider how some of the current approaches to the management of water in England will need to change in response to a changing climate and a growing population.

The consultation is now running to 24 September 2020 (this is an extension to the original April 2020 deadline).

Read more here:

Access the consultation document here


Environment Agency strategy for safe and sustainable sludge use

The EA has reviewed the current regulatory regime for sludge treatment, storage and use. They looked at the advantages and disadvantages of four options. The option they selected will bring sludge and septic tank sludge into the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations, and they aim to do this in 2021. The Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations will no longer be needed.

Contents of this strategy include:

  • How sludge can be used
  • Why change is needed
  • Purpose, objectives and principles of the strategy
  • How the changes will be made
  • Plan of action
  • Reasons for change

Read more here

Environment Bill 2020

The Bill will bring into UK law environmental protections and recovery. Documents related to the 2020 Environment Bill can be accessed here.

This statement includes details on:

  • creating a new governance framework for the environment
  • a new direction for resources and waste management
  • improving air quality
  • securing our water services
  • enhancing our green spaces
  • updating laws on chemicals (REACH)

Identification of areas of aquaculture potential in English waters

Literature review and spatial modelling to identify where key aquaculture species might be cultured based on environmental conditions necessary for species growth or constraining culture infrastructure.

Aquaculture has the potential to be one of the fastest growing English maritime sectors. The objective of this project and associated collaborative work is to delineate strategic areas of potential for aquaculture development in English waters. This project supports that objective by (1) identifying the spatial extent viable for growth of current and emerging species of importance to aquaculture in English waters, and (2) identifying the current technical constraints of aquaculture techniques used for culture of species of interest to further refine suitable areas.

Project summary here

Read more here


Innovative Scheme to conserve newts and promote sustainable development is rolled out across England

Natural England has announced that an innovative and strategic approach to great crested newt licensing is being rolled out across 37 local authorities in Essex, Wiltshire, Shropshire, Greater Manchester, South Midlands, and parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Great crested newts have seen dramatic declines in their populations over the last 60 years despite being protected under UK and EU law, with approximately 50% of ponds in the UK lost in the 20th century. It is an offence to disturb the species, and landowners or housing developers must apply for a licence before undertaking any building work on or around its pond habitat.

The ‘District Level Licensing’ scheme better protects this iconic, orange-bellied amphibian by working at a landscape rather than at site-by-site scale and using conservation payments from developers to create new habitats in locations that will benefit the species. The District Level Licensing scheme is currently already available across 32 local authorities in WokingSouth MidlandsKent and Cheshire. This recent move means that developers and consultants will be able to access the scheme across a further 37 local authorities, more than doubling its availability.

Read more here

Launch of major 'source to sea' natural flood management drive

A wide-reaching 'source to sea' natural flood risk management and habitat creation scheme for the River Don was launched recently with a day of tree planting. The November 2019 floods generated huge support to further develop a catchment-based approach to managing the risk of flooding at a landscape scale along the River Don.

By investing in nature-based solutions like tree planting, peat restoration and wetland creation, it is possible to help slow the flow of water, reducing flood risk downstream in a way that complements more traditional engineering such as flood defence walls and embankments.

Legislation to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds enters Parliament

The ban will ensure that less single-use plastics enter the environment, whilst protecting those with medical requirements or disabilities.

In England, it is estimated that we use 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds every year. An estimated 10% of cotton buds are flushed down toilets and can end up in waterways and oceans and threaten precious marine wildlife.

Following a public consultation in autumn 2018 which saw huge support, the government confirmed in May 2019 that it would implement a ban with exceptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to access plastic straws. In a bid to strike the right balance between reducing environmental impact while protecting the rights of people with medical conditions and disabilities, registered pharmacies will be allowed to sell plastic straws over the counter or online.

The government will carry out a stocktake after one year to assess the impact of these measures and whether the balance is correct.

Read more here

Many urban rivers are hidden underground – ‘daylighting’ them would bring nature back to cities

Ever noticed how few rivers you can see in most city centres? It’s easy enough to spot the big, usually tamed, main river such as the Thames in London, the Seine in Paris, the Aire in Leeds or the Don in Sheffield. But you will be hard-pressed to find any of their tributaries.

The lost rivers of London are well known, but all cities have them. In my home city of Bradford there is virtually no trace of the small main river, the Bradford Beck, or most of its urban tributaries. In Bradford alone, more than 25 km of streams have been covered over and now flow within an engineered structure known as a culvert.

Read more of this article by David Lerner (Emeritus Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Sheffield) here

Marine Conservation Society Good Fish Guide – new edition now out

The MCS explain that you can play a key role in securing the future of our seas and marine wildlife by making more environmentally responsible choices when buying seafood.

Use the Good Fish Guide to find out which fish are the most sustainable (Green rated), and which are the least sustainable (Red rated). Make the right choice and reduce your impact – every purchase matters!

National Framework for Water Resources

This recently launched framework brings together industry, regulators and government to transform the way we use and look after our water supplies. The framework will help reduce demand, halve leakage rates, develop new supplies, move water to where it’s needed and reduce the need for drought measures that can harm the environment.

The framework looks to ease the pressure on our future water supplies by:

  • Reducing demand to an average of 110 litres per person per day by 2050
  • Improving water efficiency across all sectors
  • Working with water companies to halve leakage rates by 2050
  • Developing new supplies such as reservoirs, water re-use schemes and desalination plants
  • Making it easier to move water to where it’s needed through regional water transfers
  • Reducing the use of drought measures that can impact the environment

Five regional groups across the country will work up plans tailored to the specific needs of their individual area, bringing together the 17 English water companies, industry regulators, government and other water users. The framework will guide these groups and deliver a national blueprint for future water resources planning from 2025 to 2050 and beyond.

The framework also sets out the challenges that water-intensive industries such as agriculture and power generation are likely to face across different parts of the country as a result of climate change, and how we can overcome them.

Read more here

Natural capital tool launched to help protect the environment

A new online resource for measuring natural capital is available. This was launched recently by Defra to help ensure better environmental decision-making by valuing our ‘natural capital’.

For the first time, a comprehensive and integrated set of evidence and guidance about UK natural capital is now accessible from one place. It is intended to help policymakers, businesses, landowners and public sector organisations make better planning decisions in order to protect and to boost natural capital.

‘Natural capital’ is the sum of our ecosystems, providing us with food, clean air and water, wildlife, energy, wood, recreation, and protection from hazards. The natural capital approach will make it easier for public and private organisations to better assess and value the environment. This will help deliver benefits including long-term flood risk reduction, boosts to wildlife, improvements to water and air quality, and opportunities for biodiversity net gain.

The value of the environment and natural capital is routinely understated. For example, the Office for National Statistics estimate that England’s woods and forests deliver a value of services estimated at £2.3 billion annually. Of this figure, only a small proportion (10%) is in timber values. The rest of the value derives from other more ‘hidden’ benefits to society, such as human recreation and air pollution removal, which improve health, and carbon sequestration which can help combat climate change.

New £2.5 million project launched to restore fragile marine habitats

The future of England’s most important underwater habitats have received an important boost after a marine restoration project received £2.5 million funding.

The LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project, led by Natural England, will protect seagrass meadows – a critically endangered EU red-listed habitat which are easily damaged and slow to recover. They are threatened by anchoring, mooring and launching of recreational boats, as well as trampling from walkers and bait collectors. The project will provide environmentally friendly moorings, voluntary codes, targeted training and habitat restoration, in five areas across southern England.

Seagrass meadows stabilise the seabed, clean surrounding seawater and absorb carbon, helping to prevent climate change. It has been estimated that seagrass around our shores can absorb and store at least as much carbon per hectare as trees in UK woodland. These plants are havens for many marine animals including rare seahorses, stalked jellyfish, and rare seaweeds. These habitats are also perfect for fish nurseries, including commercially valuable flatfish such as plaice and flounder.

The five Marine Protected Areas, set to benefit from the funded project are: the Isles of Scilly, Fal & Helford, Plymouth Sound & Estuaries, Solent Maritime and Essex Estuaries Special Areas of Conservation.

New protections for thousands of seabirds

New protections for the breeding and foraging grounds of rare and vulnerable seabirds have been announced. New and extended special protection areas, designated to protect rare and vulnerable seabirds from human activity, such as fishing or outdoor recreation, will be designated in the Solent and near Middlesbrough. The new and extended locations join 47 existing sites in English waters.

A comprehensive Seabird Conservation Strategy will be published in December 2020. This will assess the vulnerability of each species in light of the pressures they are facing and will propose actions to address them.

The UK seabird population is of global importance. The UK holds around one quarter of Europe’s breeding seabirds, with the marine Special Protection Areas network being of critical conservation importance for many of the UK’s birds and protecting important breeding sites and foraging grounds that contain an estimated 70% of all UK breeding seabirds and 37% of all UK non-breeding waterbirds. The impacts of climate change are considered to be one of the main causes of a decline in a number of species, mainly through changes to the availability of prey, rising temperatures and extreme weather events.

Read more here

Reporting Suspicious Marine Activity

If you notice something suspicious in the marine environment, the Marine Management Organisation would like to know.

Submit a report if you notice something suspicious in relation to:

  • Marine licensing
  • Fisheries
  • Marine conservation

The report can be anonymous if you wish.

For the form click here


Sea-changers are a UK charity, managed by a small team of volunteers who love the UK’s seas, shores and wildlife. Their goals are:

  • To enable grassroots, community-led marine conservation to happen all around the UK’s shores and coasts.
  • To create communities of Sea-Changers – people who care about the seas, are willing to take practical actions to make a difference, and have the funds they need to put their plans in to action. 

Their General Grant Fund and the Marine Litter Fund are allocated twice a year. Deadlines are 31st March and 30th September. They have recently launched a new fund for the provision of water bottle refill fountains on beaches. This is to prevent or reduce negative impacts on UK coastal and marine environments and species by reducing marine litter, through the provision of well-located coastal water fountains that will significantly reduce the use of non-reusable plastic drinks bottles. Since 2011, Sea-Changers has funded over 150 marine conservation projects all around the UK.

Year of the English Coast 2021

The entire English coast is about to be accessible for the first time through the designation of the longest waymarked walking route in the world – the new England Coast Path National Trail.  To celebrate this, 2021 is being marked as the Year of the English Coast.  Across the coast, in England, communities will be hosting a wide range of events and activities to showcase our stunning coastline to visitors.

This incredible new asset not only improves existing and opens new access routes, it will secure access rights to typical coastal land such as foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs and will physically connect coastal communities along its length.  The work will near completion in 2021 with all stretches of coast open or with establishment works under way. This provides the timely opportunity to reflect on, and celebrate, our amazing coastline, its people and environment. As we come together to celebrate, the Year of the English Coast is a call to raise awareness of much needed solutions for our complex coastal challenges. The economies of coastal communities in England must urgently transform to benefit people and nature with more and better jobs, increased wellbeing and economic resilience, and a healthier coastal and marine environment. The aim is to support a programme of change that enables communities to work together to positively transform life at the coast. If you are a business or a community group, see how to get involved and to see the 2021 events programme, go to:


Blue Manifesto – The Roadmap to a Healthy Ocean in 2030

Environmental NGOs have launched a new rescue plan for Europe to make our ocean healthy by 2030. A total of 102 environmental organisations, led by Seas At Risk, BirdLife Europe, ClientEarth, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation Europe, and WWF are involved. The rescue plan lays out concrete actions which must be delivered by set dates in order to turn the tide on the ever-degraded and polluted ocean and coastlines. 

Read more here

EU Water Legislation – Fitness Check

The fitness check is a comprehensive policy evaluation of: the Water Framework Directive (WFD); the Environmental Quality Standards Directive; the Groundwater Directive; the Floods Directive.

It assesses whether the Directives are fit for purpose by examining their performance against five criteria set out in the Commission’s Better Regulation agenda: effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value.

The analysis of the evidence and the stakeholder feedback allow us to conclude that the Directives are largely fit for purpose. The Directives have led to a higher level of protection for water bodies and flood risk management than could have been expected without them.

The results for the Water Framework Directive, complemented by the Environmental Quality Standards Directive and the Groundwater Directive, are mixed. On the one hand, the WFD has been successful in setting up a governance framework for integrated water management for the more than 110,000 water bodies in the EU, slowing down the deterioration of water status and reducing chemical pollution. On the other hand, the Directive’s implementation has been significantly delayed and less than half of the EU’s water bodies are in good status, even though the deadline for achieving this was 2015, except for duly justified cases.

One of the factors that hindered the achievement of better results was the fact that it proved more difficult than envisaged to establish a governance framework that takes into account the specific conditions in each Member State. In addition, good status depends not only on mitigation measures to address current pressures, but also on restoration measures to address pressures from the past. Finally, good status of water bodies also critically depends on the full implementation of other pieces of EU legislation, such as the Nitrates Directive and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, as well as better integration of water objectives in other policy areas such as agriculture, energy or transport. This has not happened yet at the scale necessary.

The slow rate of progress can be attributed to the long time lags for nature to respond to measures. It is also more difficult to make progress visible due to the ‘one-out-all-out’ principle underpinning comprehensive protection of water bodies and ecosystems, under which good status is not granted if any of the relevant parameters are less than good.

Read more here


Alien invasions are rising: study shows location-level factors are the main drivers of success for invading bird species worldwide

Invasions of alien species are rising at an alarming rate, largely due to growing global trade and transport routes. Preventing the successful establishment of alien species by better understanding the factors determining success is a step toward limiting the threat of future biological invasions. This study provides insight into factors that govern the success of alien bird species in a given environment, providing another tool to help scientists better predict which environments are most vulnerable to invasion and which species are most likely to successfully invade. Statistical modelling using observed bird invasion data – including location-, event- and species-level factors – showed which factors were key to successful establishment by the alien species.

Read more here

Assessing river nutrients using diatom DNA: further development of an operational method

This project has improved a DNA-based method to monitor and assess the make-up of diatom communities (a type of microscopic algae) that we use to assess nutrient enrichment in rivers.

This report builds on earlier work and describes:

  • Improvements in the sampling approach
  • further refinement of the metabarcoding method
  • the feasibility of extending the approach to lakes.

Read more here

Ecological effects of deep-sea mining experiment still evident 26 years later

In 1989, researchers dragged a plough harrow across the seafloor of the Peru Basin to recreate some of the effects of deep-sea mining. Twenty-six years later, a new team of researchers returned to the site to assess whether there were any long-term ecological effects. They found that the seabed ecosystem remained disrupted, with significantly fewer suspension feeder species, such as anemones and sea sponges, than in undisturbed areas of seafloor. This suggests that deep-sea mining could cause irreversible changes to marine food webs in highly disturbed areas.

Read more here

Evidence and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

MMO evidence strategy, requirements and reports: our seas are vast and complex and there is much still to learn and understand about their delicate ecosystems. Access to high quality evidence is critical to this.

Evidence influences much of the MMO’s work, ensuring they continue to make informed decisions using the most up-to-date research to manage the increasing demands on the marine environment and its resources.

Evidence strategy: The Marine Management Organisation’s Evidence Strategy 2015 to 2020, sets out their evidence requirements and how they will be delivered over the next five years, increasing access to high quality research and improving understanding of the marine environment.

Read more here

Exploring the potential of DNA techniques to monitor macroinvertebrate communities and invasive species in rivers

This project explored the potential for using DNA techniques to track and monitor small animals in rivers. The project was part of a wider programme of research by UK regulatory and conservation agencies to develop DNA-based methods for environmental monitoring. This project tested whether macroinvertebrate communities and individual invasive non-native species (INNS) could be reliably detected in rivers using their DNA and if this approach was more sensitive than kick sampling.

This work has demonstrated that DNA metabarcoding cannot directly replace existing kick sample monitoring as it provides different information, irrespective of sample type. To take advantage of the cost-effective, non-destructive approach offered by eDNA metabarcoding, and if it is to feature in macroinvertebrates assessments, it will be necessary to rethink how all the information generated by DNA – and not just that from macroinvertebrates – can be incorporated into ecological assessments to understand the ecological response to environmental change.

This study has highlighted the huge potential of sampling eDNA from water for INNS detection. It is more sensitive than kick sampling. Early detection of INNS when they are in low numbers is critical for timely and cost-effective management responses such as containment or removal.

Read more here

Groundwater protection: first voluntary initiative to develop a pollutant watch list

Over the past two decades concern has grown globally about the occurrence of anthropogenic organic contaminants in the environment, such as substances used in pharmaceuticals, food production and manufacturing. Many of these compounds are not sufficiently monitored or regulated in groundwater – a critical water resource in Europe. A recent paper proposes an approach to developing the first voluntary Groundwater Watch List: an initiative with which to identify, monitor, and characterise substances that have the greatest potential to pollute this water resource.

Read more here

International Fish eDNA Project

This project involves combining citizen science with eDNA to survey river fish communities. The home page of the project website explains: Fish leave DNA in water. We capture this eDNA using filters and use it to identify which species of fish are present. It provides lots of information without having to disturb the fish themselves. Using our simple kits, anyone can collect an eDNA sample. We want to use the power of volunteers and citizen scientists to collect as many samples as possible in the UK, Europe & Canada. The project is coordinated by a team of experts in environmental DNA sampling and analysis. We will apply the highest level of scientific rigour to processing the samples and analysing the data.

Microalgae could be used to effectively bio-refine brewery wastewater

A circular economy, in which waste is minimised and resources are kept within the system, relies upon inventive ways of turning waste into a resource. A new study has explored the possibility of using the microalga Scenedesmus obliquus to refine and process brewery wastewater. The alga efficiently removed pollutants from the effluent, produced biomass and biofuels in a range of different forms – and with different bioactive compounds – and encouraged waste barley and wheat to germinate at increased rates. This is especially important for breweries, as barley seeds are one of the main feedstocks for the industry – and thus are key to increasing its sustainability and circularity.

Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The main ingredient in beer is water, and the brewing industry is one of the largest industrial users of water worldwide. Producing a single litre of beer requires an average of 6 litres of water and generates up to 10 litres of wastewater. Water use, waste and availability are thus critical factors for breweries. Breweries produce huge volumes of wastewater which must be treated before it enters our waterways. Tiny microalgae could play a valuable role in this treatment process within a biorefinery – a platform that transforms biomass into biofuels, energy, food, fertilisers, polymers and other high-value products.

Read more here

Nuclear power station cooling waters: protecting biota

This study reviewed the recent published literature on the effectiveness and UK applicability of technologies which can protect animal and plant life (biota) from large-scale cooling water systems at nuclear power stations.

The Environment Agency will use the information from this study when permitting and regulating the cooling water systems of new nuclear power stations or other large-scale water infrastructure projects.

Read more here

Research at Cefas

The Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science carries out research to support Defra policy. Cefas undertakes and commissions research relating to:

  • the environmental impact of natural and man-made activities on marine and freshwater areas
  • risks to human and animal health, such as contamination and disease
  • the impact of climate change on the marine environment
  • fisheries management and sustainable stock levels.

Read more here

Road run-off is significant cause of London river pollution

Roads where heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) regularly apply their brakes are often the worst affected, around junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights. A new study has highlighted road runoff pollution as one of the main sources of damage to London’s waterways. The cause is spills of oil, diesel and petrol and particulates from tyres and brakes which are washed into waterways. 

Read more here


Welsh National Marine Plan Newsletter

The fourteenth edition of the newsletter was published in February. This will keep you up to date on the latest developments as the first Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP) is implemented. The WNMP was published and adopted on 12 November 2019. As the plan is implemented with decision makers, your views are important, so please get in touch or share this newsletter with your networks. For those new to the newsletter you can find the old editions here. Contact details are at the bottom of the newsletter.

CaBA Benefits Report 2018–19

The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA), the initiative to drive collaborative water management across England, has published its annual report that includes a summary of the environmental work undertaken by its 106 river catchment partnerships nationwide. The benefits arising include improvement of water quality, addressing flood risk and water scarcity and empowering local communities through citizen science.

The report states that during the period 2018 to 2019, for every £1 directly invested by government, CaBA partnerships have raised £3.20 of co-finance from a diverse range of non-governmental funders. These include corporate businesses, water and waste companies (though landfill taxes), EU funds (LIFE, Interreg and Horizon 2020) as well as lottery funds.

Sometimes described as a ‘coalition of the willing’, CaBA is inclusive in its approach and encompasses many leading environmental charities who work alongside government agencies, water companies, local authorities, businesses, and local communities. This partnership approach is globally unique in its national coverage and framework of support.

Read the report here

European Centre for River Restoration Technical Newsletter 1, February 2020

ECRR issues a technical newsletter twice a year, with different articles from various authors. This issue has a special theme: Riverine Ecological Restoration and Management, with seven professional articles describing different aspects around this theme.

The articles include riverine ecosystem management, sustainable hydropower, river care, braided, wild rivers, dam removal and ecological compensation of dams. Forthcoming events are also described.

Read the newsletter:

Fish Health Inspectorate: Enforcement Strategy

This publication explains the Fish Health Inspectorate’s (FHI) enforcement strategy and objectives. It outlines the standards and processes used to enforce the sector it regulates.

The FHI’s main objectives are to prevent the introduction and spread of serious fish and shellfish diseases. They achieve this by:

  • implementing and managing risk-based aquatic animal health surveillance programmes
  • assessing the incidence, prevalence and significance of diseases
  • undertaking disease prevention and eradication measures
  • applying controls to stop the import and spread of disease
  • investigating unexplained mortalities
  • advising on appropriate biosecurity and disease mitigation measures
  • enforcing non-compliance with legislative requirements
  • Promoting and actively engaging with joint agency working practices

Read more here

Hydropower pressure on European Rivers: the story in numbers

The hydropower sector is booming worldwide. Europe is no exception to this trend, even though most of the hydropower potential on the continent has already been harnessed. A large part of the increase is due to the development of small hydropower plants (0.1–10 MW). This study presents the first inventory of hydropower in the whole of Europe, and overlays them with Europe’s protected areas. The inventory shows regional differences and highlights the regions most vulnerable to new hydropower developments. Often, these house some of Europe’s most pristine and biodiversity-rich rivers.

Hot spots of development of medium and large hydropower plants in Western Europe are Portugal, Switzerland and Austria. Hydropower in Norway and Scotland is growing steadily, especially for small hydropower plants and pumped storage ones. The most dynamic development can be found in the Balkan region, Turkey and some Eastern European countries. Albania and Turkey are also developing large hydropower plants.

Read the report:

Income generation report of Catchment Partnerships

The Environment Agency commissioned the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) to undertake a project exploring Catchment Partnership resilience.

The project involved CAF working closely with four Catchment Partnerships from across the country in 2019–20 to understand what constitutes realistic and feasible sources of income generation to aim for. Income generation is not easy for any organisation carrying out environmental work, and is becoming harder as reduced funding is available from almost all sources.

Read the report here

Marine Planning newsletter December 2019 from the MMO

This issue of the marine planning newsletter includes an update on the preparations for a public consultation of the draft North East, North West, South East and South West Marine Plans in the New Year, the publication of MMO’s (Marine Management Organisation’s) annual monitoring surveys for the East and South Marine Plans, also in the New Year; and an opportunity for marine planners to deliver training on implementation of South Marine Plans to your organisation.

See the newsletter here

River Restoration and Biodiversity: Nature-based Solutions for Restoring the Rivers of the UK and the Republic of Ireland

Well-planned river restoration may benefit physical habitat and biodiversity in the short term, but realising the full benefits takes longer, particularly at large (catchment) scales. Restoration techniques that encourage natural processes and help rivers to recover by themselves are recommended.

This document provides the blueprint for how to move ahead with river restoration and nature based solutions. The key messages are:

  • Healthy rivers are important for people and nature, but much historic damage has caused serious problems that now need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
  •  River restoration is important for achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
  • Working with nature allows us to achieve many otherwise conflicting objectives.
  • River restoration, working with natural processes and natural flood management, is a cost-effective response to changing climate.

Read the report:

Rivers polluted by abandoned metal mines in England

This map shows the rivers in England that are polluted by at least one metal, which includes cadmium, lead, zinc, copper, nickel, arsenic and iron, due to abandoned metal mines. The map also indicates where measures are in place to manage this pollution.

See the map here

Seabird Population Trends and Causes of Change: 1986–2018 Report

Since 1986, breeding seabirds at colonies around the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands have been monitored annually via the Seabird Monitoring Programme, co-ordinated and led by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in partnership with 18 other organisations.

The report shows presentation of trends in abundance, productivity, demographic parameters and diet of breeding seabirds, along with interpretive text on the likely causes of change based on the most recent research. Trend information is presented at the UK level and separately for Scotland, Wales, England, Northern, Republic of Ireland, All-Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. Interpretation of trends and reasons for change are given largely at the UK level, unless there is country-specific evidence.

Read more here

Statistics on Waterbirds in the UK (2020 publication; includes data up to 2019)

The Wetland Birds Survey (WeBS) is an important indicator of waterbird status and the health of wetlands in the UK. The statistics cover assessments of the size of non-breeding waterbird populations, trends in their numbers and distribution, and an assessment of the importance of individual sites for waterbirds.

These data help fulfil the objectives of international wetland-related Conventions and Directives and inform local decision making. WeBS is run by the British Trust for Ornithology, RSPB, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and in association with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. The underlying data is collected by thousands of volunteer WeBS surveyors.

Access the publication here


Accelerating action to tackle water pollution and enhance EU preparedness to water-related climate change impacts: 11–13 December 2019

This EU Water Innovation Conference 2019 was held in December in Spain, bringing together over 700 professionals. The aim was to raise awareness about the need and urgency to improve water management across the European Union towards a water-smart society, take stock of recent European Commission’s policy assessments and of research and innovation results and outcomes, as well as to promote the exchange of best practices and innovative approaches at the technical, governance and policy levels.

Access the agenda and presentations here: