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 runs from 24 October 2019 to 24 April 2020.

Read more here:

Access the consultation document here



Updating the UK marine strategy part one (2019)

Defra have now published the summary of responses to this consultation and the government’s response.

As a result of Good Environmental Status assessments carried out ahead of the consultation and the responses to the consultation itself, Defra have published an update to the Marine Strategy.

See more here



Wholescape Approach to Marine Management

The Rivers Trust and the Coastal Partnerships Network have recently begun a 16-month project, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to support a more integrated and collaborative approach to the management of estuarine and coastal waters nationwide.

The Wholescape Approach to Marine Management (WAMM) project will help support a more collaborative approach between Coastal and Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) partnerships and, through training workshops and webinars, build knowledge and expertise across a range of issues.

A key aim of WAMM is that more holistic and collaborative project delivery, supported by a range of stakeholders and drawing upon a diverse range of funding sources, is realised. Morecambe Bay has been selected as the primary pilot study location for WAMM; the Morecambe Bay Coastal Partnership and the three CaBA Partnerships (led by Lune, South Cumbria and Wyre Rivers Trusts respectively) encompassing the Bay catchment have begun a programme of collaborative working with a focus on plastics and their presence within the coastal and estuarine environment. WAMM will also develop a roadmap to collaborative working which will identify the means to overcome perceived barriers and identify the opportunities and benefits of a partnership approach.


Bathing water quality statistics

These are annual statistics showing if bathing waters in England meet regulatory standards. The Environment Agency closely monitors beaches and inland waters that are designated bathing waters to check that standards are being maintained.

Bathing waters can be classified as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘poor’.

Latest results – 2019

Out of 420 bathing waters:

  • 413 (98.3%) met at least the minimum standard
  • 300 (71.4%) were classified as ‘excellent’
  • 7 (1.7%) did not meet the minimum standard and were classified as ‘poor’

Read more here


Marine strategy part one: UK updated assessment and Good Environmental Status

This strategy provides an updated assessment of our seas and sets objectives, targets and indicators for achieving Good Environmental Status. This strategy sets out how we will move towards Good Environmental Status (GES) in our seas over the next six years.

It covers:

  • the updated assessment of the state of the UK’s seas
  • high level objectives for GES
  • detailed GES targets and indicators, through which we will measure progress towards achieving GES.

It is an update to the Marine Strategy part one published in 2012.

Read more here


Latest phase of work on major Norfolk chalk stream completed

A project to help reinvigorate one of the biggest chalk streams in the country is another step closer to being completed. The latest phase of a 19-year project to restore part of the River Wensum has just finished, and it is hoped this will enhance the habitat and improve fish populations.

The River Wensum Restoration Strategy began in 2008, in partnership with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Water Management Alliance, to restore the river and return it to a favourable ecological condition. In 2009 the river was classified as ‘poor’ and one of the reasons for this was the physical modifications made to the river as a result of past drainage schemes. The project, which is due to be completed by 2027, is looking to address these modifications and create a more naturally functioning river.

Read more here


‘Citizens’ army’ needed to tackle biosecurity risk from invasive non-native species

The Environmental Audit Committee calls for a ‘citizens’ army’ to tackle the growing threat from invasive species, estimated to cost Britain’s economy £1.8 billion a year. Trained volunteers would help identify and respond to biosecurity outbreaks, modelled on a system developed in New Zealand.

The report found that urgent action is needed to slow the rate of arrival of invasive species and prevent them becoming established. It estimates that around 40 non-native species will become invasive within 20 years.

MPs conclude that the government has missed its legal targets on tackling invasive species and has failed to give it the same priority and funding as animal and plant health regimes. Current funding for biosecurity in Great Britain is estimated at £220 million a year; however, invasive species receive less than one per cent of that sum (£0.9m). The term Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) describes those species that have been directly moved as a result of human activity.

The report calls on the government to:

  • Train a ‘biosecurity citizens’ army’ of 1.3 million volunteers to identify and respond to outbreaks of invasive species
  • Establish a dedicated border force by 2020 to improve biosecurity at UK borders
  • Ban imports of problem species before they present a risk to the UK
  • Set up a rapid response emergency fund to enable agencies to tackle a threat before it becomes out of control
  • Increase funding to Non-Native Species Secretariat to £3 million a year
  • Include invasive pathogens in the next Invasive Non-Native Species Strategy.
  • Source of information here

    Read the report summary

    Read the report conclusions and recommendations

    Read the full report: Invasive species


River pollution alert service extended

An online service updating the public on major pollution incidents in 6 London boroughs has been extended to cover another 16 areas of the capital and large parts of the northern Home Counties.

Anyone with an interest in the environment can sign-up for e-mail alerts on how the Environment Agency is responding to incidents, including river pollution where sewage or another substance has entered the water. They can select the river or rivers of interest from around 80 in London, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire. The Environment Agency will then issue regular updates.

If, after a 6-month trial period, the alerts have proved popular, there are plans to extend the service in the future.

Local authority areas now included in the service: Barking and Dagenham; Barnet; Brent; Camden; Ealing; East Hertfordshire; Enfield; Hackney; Hammersmith and Fulham; Haringey; Harlow; Harrow; Hertsmere; Hillingdon; Hounslow; Islington; Kensington and Chelsea; Luton; Newham; Redbridge; St Albans; Three Rivers; Watford; and Welwyn and Hatfield.

Areas partially covered: Brentwood; Central Bedfordshire; Chiltern; Dacorum; Epping Forest; Havering; North Hertfordshire; Richmond upon Thames; South Bucks; Spelthorne; Stevenage; Uttlesford; and Windsor and Maidenhead

Read more here


Chilterns Chalk Streams Conference – Position Statement

This was provided by Harvey Bradshaw, Executive Director of Environment and Business (EA) at the Chilterns Chalk Stream Conference in October 2019.

As many of you know, chalk streams flow from chalk aquifers. Both the streams and aquifers provide essential drinking water for people across the South East and East Anglia. Some water companies such as Cambridge Water are 100% dependent on the aquifers that support the chalk streams. Without this water taps would run dry.

Businesses and farms also rely on chalk streams. Without water they would not be able to operate. This would significantly affect the economy, the livelihoods of the people that they employ and the availability of food to eat.

Despite the recent wet weather, if we look back over the last three years we have seen about 50% less recharge to aquifers than we would normally expect in this part of the country. Some groundwater levels are currently the lowest ever recorded.

This is an environmental drought and we all have a responsibility to play a constructive part in tackling its causes and effects. There is a wider context which also requires all of us to work together; people at this conference and people across the nation. It is the climate emergency, which makes drought and floods more likely. For many years we have been able to use water stored in the chalk aquifer in a sustainable way but recent weather patterns require new approaches that make us more resilient to prolonged dry periods. We face having to invest more money in alternative and more costly supplies of clean water. We will be faced with tough choices as we balance the various needs I have mentioned. We want to face this future together, with you helping us, so that we properly reflect your needs just as we will reflect others.

See the full position statement here


Government introduces new Environment Bill

Defra state: The transformative Environment Bill will help ensure that we maintain and improve our environmental protections as we leave the EU. It will build on the UK’s strong track record and sets out a comprehensive and world-leading vision to allow future generations to prosper. Environmental principles will be enshrined in law and measures will be introduced to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive.

Legislation will also create, legally-binding environmental improvement targets. A new independent Office for Environmental Protection will be established to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, if necessary, to uphold our environmental standards. The office’s powers will cover all climate change legislation and hold the government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. By also championing nature-based solutions, the Bill demonstrates our commitment to tackle climate change.

While the Bill applies only to England, more than half of its measures - such as those designed to drive up recycling rates - are designed to apply across the UK, with the consent of devolved administrations, helping the nation deal with the major environmental challenges we face together.


Help our Kelp

Kelp once stretched along 40 km of the West Sussex coastline from Selsey to Shoreham, forming an underwater forest that extended at least 4 km seaward. It provided a vital habitat, nursery and feeding ground for seahorses, cuttlefish, lobster, sea bream and bass. It locked up huge quantities of carbon, helping us to fight climate change, while improving water quality and reducing coastal erosion by absorbing the power of ocean waves. But within living memory, kelp in Sussex waters has diminished to almost nothing. Storm damage, changing fishing practices and the dumping of sediment spoils by dredging boats have taken their toll on this sensitive habitat. The wildlife associated with it has all but disappeared, and the vital ecosystem services it provided have been lost.

A key first step is to give the kelp some breathing space to recover. To achieve this, the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority is proposing a new local byelaw to stop trawling within 4 km of the coast. If the byelaw is approved, the marine rewilding project can truly begin.

See a video about this issue here


Independent panel calls for views on introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas

The public were asked to give their views on strengthening protections for UK waters to help safeguard precious species and habitats. A four-week call for evidence in October saw communities, industry and stakeholders being asked for their comments on putting tougher measures in place to help stop the impacts of human activity from damaging the marine environment. Views were also sought on which areas would benefit most from these extra protections.

These Highly Protected Marine Areas would be the strongest form of marine protection in the UK and would build on the 220,000 square kilometres of protection areas already in place around the UK. Known as the ‘Blue Belt’, these areas are already helping to protect species such as the short-snouted seahorse and stalked jellyfish.

The call for evidence is part of a six-month review undertaken by an independent panel of experts to look at what further protections might be needed to drive progress in the UK. The views of those who use the seas will be at the heart of the review, which will consider the economic and social impacts on businesses and individuals who use the sea, taking into account the views of fishermen, conservation groups, marine industries, and local communities. The review will conclude in early 2020, after which time the panel will make a formal recommendation to Defra.

Read more here


New Waterwise website

Not only is Waterwise getting a rebrand, they’ve also redesigned their website. The water-saving pages have been updated and improved, the Waterwise Database is now easily searchable, an events calendar has been added and there’s more to come.

Waterwise is an independent, not-for-profit UK NGO focused on reducing water consumption in the UK. They support and challenge governments, industry, customers and others to be innovative and ambitious on water efficiency.

 The organisation works in a range of areas, including influencing and shaping policy and legislation; driving strategic and practical ambition in the water sector; designing and delivering research; media, campaigns and promotion; running demonstration projects; promoting water-efficient technology; helping businesses be more water-efficient; facilitating partnerships; brokering new solutions; and training water efficiency practitioners.


Northumberland launches strategy to protect white-clawed crayfish

Northumberland is incredibly lucky to have some of the best populations of white-clawed crayfish in the country. This is the only species of freshwater crayfish native to the UK. The species provides food for otters, fish and herons whilst also being responsible for helping to break down leaf litter and plant growth.

However, the species is at risk of being lost from the region and the strategy looks to help conserve one of the most threatened species in the UK. The two-page strategy lays out a framework that will hopefully ensure the freshwater crayfish stays a resident in the region for years to come. The strategy aims to improve our knowledge and better understand of the current distribution and status of freshwater crayfish in Northumberland, and improve our understanding of threats to the remaining populations, agree priorities and take appropriate actions.

The Crayfish Area Conservation Strategy work will include carrying out surveys for the species to spot population changes and get an up-to-date picture of where different crayfish species are residing, identifying potential river or pond habitat improvements and developing safe havens where crayfish can be moved to ensure the species survives into the future.

Read more here


English water companies commit to planting 11 million trees by 2030

Water companies in England have announced ambitious plans to plant 11 million trees, part of a wider commitment to improve the natural environment, to support their goal of achieving a carbon neutral water industry by 2030.

The joint proposals will see trees planted on around 6,000 hectares of land across England together with work to restore original woodland and improve natural habitats that themselves provide carbon capture. While some of this land is owned by the water companies themselves, additional land will be provided by partners such as local authorities, The National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and The RSPB.

Local partnerships with councils and regional NGOs will ensure that projects include urban tree planting, to bring much needed health and wellbeing benefits to communities in towns and cities. In addition, The Woodland Trust has agreed to work with all the water companies to help identify sites and manage the planting programme once it is developed.

Read more here


Metaldehyde slug pellet ban overturned after legal challenge

The ban on metaldehyde slug pellets is being overturned after the High Court in London agreed with a challenge on the legality of the ban, and the pellets will now return to the market.

The decision by former Defra secretary Michael Gove has been declared unlawful by the court and this overturns the December 2018 Defra ruling that withdrew from the market all products containing metaldehyde, with immediate effect, with their use on farms banned from 2020.

A Defra spokesman said that the legal challenge was based on how the decision making process was conducted, and it will now review this decision.

Source of information here


PestSmart (Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water)

PestSmart encourages people to consider smarter ways of weed, pest and disease control that do not impact on people, water or wildlife.

Welsh Water’s routine water monitoring programme has detected increasing traces of pesticides in areas they have never seen them before. While these levels are too low to pose a risk to those drinking the water, they are enough to risk breaching rigorous drinking water standards so they want to work with you to take action and address this issue together.

By safeguarding and improving raw water quality before it gets to their water treatment works, they can avoid the need for using additional chemicals and energy to get your drinking water perfect. This helps to keep bills low and safeguards and protects the environment for generations to come.

The PestSmart project has been created. Working with farmers, growers, landowners and gardeners across Wales, Welsh Water are helping people and communities to consider the way they manage their land to help safeguard raw water quality. To help deliver this work, almost £1 million has been awarded by Welsh Government’s Rural Development Programme. This funding will allow Welsh Water to expand PestSmart across Wales.


Dynamic Dunescapes

This is a fantastic new project to restore sand dunes across England and Wales for the benefit of people, communities and wildlife. Our sand dunes are under threat. They are becoming more and more densely covered by grass and scrub while our wildlife needs areas of open sand to thrive. Healthy sand dunes need to move and be dynamic.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project is big and ambitious – targeting some of the most important sand dune systems across England and Wales. The project will launch in 2020 and there will be plenty of opportunities to be involved so you can help bring our sand dunes back to health. Follow us on Twitter or sign up to our mailing list to keep updated on our progress. Together we can help safeguard the future of these naturally important wildlife sites.

Natural England, Plantlife, National Trust, Natural Resources Wales and the Wildlife Trusts are working in partnership to deliver this ambitious and innovative project.

Read more here:


New stronghold for endangered crayfish in Lincolnshire

Hundreds of native crayfish have been carefully hand-collected and moved to a remote refuge as part of a project to grow their numbers. Environment Agency ecologists have relocated the white-clawed crayfish – a protected species under threat across the country – to sites where their populations can flourish out of harm’s way.

The new sites are free of the larger, more aggressive, invasive signal crayfish – which outcompete the native species for food and habitat and carry a disease fatal to the UK species. Around 350 native crayfish from a stretch of the River Witham near Grantham were moved to a secret site on a Lincolnshire lake. Regular monitoring will keep tabs on their numbers as the crayfish distribute across their new home and start to breed.

The work is part of a national scheme known as the ‘Ark project’, aiming to secure the future of white-clawed crayfish in England. The species has been in decline since non-native American signal crayfish escaped into UK waters in the 1970s. Collectively, non-native invasive species cost the UK economy an estimated £1.7 billion every year.

Everyone can do their part to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect native ones by taking care to follow the biosecurity steps of thoroughly checking, cleaning and drying your clothes and equipment any time you’ve been in the water. You can get more information at:

Read more here


England is one of the first nations in Europe to get Google Flood Alerts

England has become one of the first countries in Europe where people will be able to receive flood alerts on their computer, phone or personal device through the Google Public Alerts map.

Flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency will now appear on Google Search and the Google Public Alerts map with live alerts becoming visible on personal devices in a matter of seconds once they have been issued.

These flood warnings will also include vital information on steps people can take to keep themselves and their property safe when flooding is expected. The Environment Agency has been working closely with Google for two years to design and implement this service in England. The service has already been rolled out in the USA, South America and parts of Asia to alert residents to environmental emergencies such as earthquakes, wildfires and extreme temperatures.

The Environment Agency already sends flood warnings and alerts to over 1.4 million properties in England which have signed up to a text, email and automated phone call service. However, Google Public Alerts will give even greater access and visibility to this key public warning service through tens of millions of personal devices, helping people to stay safe when flooding hits.

Read more here


Water management catchment map and catchment coordinator list

Map of water management catchments and list of catchment coordinators. Part of the catchment based approach.

Access the map and list here


Major campaign launched to encourage the nation to ‘Love Water’

The British public are being asked to help the country protect water resources for future generations as part of a major campaign launched recently by more than 40 environmental groups, charities, water companies and regulators.

Clean, healthy and readily available water is essential for health and wellbeing, as well as economic growth, but as the climate emergency and population growth put increasing pressure on the water environment, the UK is facing hotter and drier summers and an increased risk of water shortages. The UK already has less available water than most other European countries and the average person uses a staggering 150 litres per day.

The ‘Love Water’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of water and the role everyone plays in protecting it. It is the first time such a large group of partners have joined together to work with businesses and consumers to tackle issues such as pollution and wastage.

The long-term campaign is led by bodies including the Environment Agency, Water UK, Ofwat, NFU and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust among others. It will feature events and initiatives, such as beach and river cleans-ups and water saving projects, designed to engage the public and encourage them to enjoy water and the environment. ‘Love Water’ is also inviting businesses and other companies to get involved by supporting the campaign through promotional activity while pledging to do their bit to save water and protect the environment by reducing pollution and waste.

Read more here


Sky partners with WWF on UK's biggest seagrass restoration scheme

Sky's Ocean Rescue arm has partnered with WWF on a new project aimed at restoring carbon-sequestering seagrass habitats in west Wales. Due to its fast-growing nature and carbon-sequestering qualities, WWF has dubbed seagrass ‘a key weapon in the battle against climate change’.

The project will see 20,000m2 of seagrass habitat restored at Dale Bay, Pembrokeshire, following the death of 92% of the UK’s seagrass by area cover over the past century. WWF claims that the flowering marine plant can capture carbon from the atmosphere and oceans up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. At the same time, seagrass releases oxygen and provides a habitat for many kinds of marine flora and fauna.

The NGO chose the type of seagrass and the location for the restoration pilot in conjunction with Sky Ocean Rescue and researchers at Swansea University. Specifically, the Swansea-based researchers have found that seagrass accounts for 10% of ocean carbon storage annually, despite occupying just 0.2% of global seafloors.

WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue are using the project to show national government, as well as the UK’s devolved powers, the benefits of investing in seagrass restoration. The organisations both hope it will be used as a best-practice example for future government-led schemes in the UK and further afield.

Read more here


Water resources infrastructure policy due this autumn

The government has completed a consultation period and is preparing to deliver its National Policy Statement (NPS) for Water Resources Infrastructure in the autumn.

Defra has said its long-awaited NPS is part of the government’s goal to provide clean and plentiful water. The department is currently considering all comments received as part of the consultation period, which ran from November 2018 to the end of January 2019. The draft NPS has also undergone parliamentary scrutiny and Defra is considering recommendations made by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

The proposed policy will examine how to make water supplies more resilient, including addressing leakage reduction and increased efficiency, as well as incorporating new water supplies such as reservoirs and water transfers. It highlights the need for developing infrastructure projects including reservoirs, water transfer and desalination projects.

The NPS has been written in response to mounting pressure on the availability of water to make sure the water industry can meet demand without compromising environmental needs. It aims to secure long-term resilience and protect customers as population growth, climate change and a growing economic sector add to the demands on water supplies.

Read more here:



UK creates global alliance to help protect the world’s ocean

The UK has announced a new global alliance to help drive urgent action to safeguard the world’s ocean and protect its precious wildlife. Ten countries have signed up the UK-led initiative.

Plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and human impacts are having a significant impact on the world’s marine environments and even putting certain species at risk of extinction. The ‘30by30’ initiative, which is pushing for at least 30 per cent of the global ocean to be protected in Marine Protected Areas by 2030, has so far been supported by 10 countries including: Belize, Costa Rica, Finland, Gabon, Kenya, Seychelles, Vanuatu, Portugal, Palau and Belgium.

These protections will help sensitive species such as seahorses, turtles and corals to thrive, and can help fight climate change by protecting key carbon habitats such as mangrove forests and seagrass meadows. The Global Ocean Alliance will also call for the ‘30by30’ ambition to be adopted at the next Convention on Biological Diversity conference in China and be introduced into international law through the High Seas Treaty in 2020.

Read more here


Blue Belt Programme – Annual Update for Financial Year 2018/19

The Blue Belt Programme supports the delivery of the UK government’s commitment to enhance marine protection for over four million square kilometres of marine environment across the UK Overseas Territories.

The programme is providing up to £20 million between 2016 and 2020 to:

  • Improve scientific understanding of the marine environment
  • Develop and implement evidence-based, tailored marine management strategies, including novel and effective approaches to surveillance and enforcement across these very remote and sparsely populated areas
  • Ensure management is sustainable and long term.

Blue Belt Programmes cover: Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Pitcairn, St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha.

Read the report here


Young leaders around the world to join the fight against plastic pollution

More young people around the world will be able to join the fight against plastic pollution after the UK government announced an extension of a global Scout and Girl Guides badge to create the next generation of international leaders to protect our ocean.

The badge not only encourages young people to take action to reduce plastic waste in their own lives, but also helps them become leaders in their communities to make sure that as many people as possible join the global fight to tackle the scourge of single-use plastics that is damaging our oceans.

The United Nations Environment Programme’s Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge will be extended to a further 15 countries after successfully engaging more than 30,000 Girl Guides and Scouts in West Africa. Overseen by UN Environment, the badge was developed with the support of Food and Agriculture Organization and partners at the World Organisation of the Scout Movement, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Read more here


£7 million extra funding to protect UK marine life

UK commits to extend its Blue Belt scheme: millions of square kilometres of ocean around the world will be cleaner and more sustainable thanks to the UK’s commitment to extend its Blue Belt scheme.

The additional £7 million will mean our protection of Marine Protected Areas can continue and expand, supporting the protection of key species such as turtles, whales, fish, seabirds and wider marine life.

This announcement comes the same week as the Ascension Island Council has committed to making their waters an Atlantic ‘Galapagos’ by designating all 445,000 km2 of their waters a large-scale Marine Protected Area. This will support the protection of key species such as green turtles, endemic fish species, important seabirds and marine life.

Read more here



Neonicotinoids disrupt aquatic food webs and decrease fishery yields

Invertebrate declines are widespread in terrestrial ecosystems, and pesticide use is often cited as a causal factor. Here, it is reported that aquatic systems are threatened by the high toxicity and persistence of neonicotinoid insecticides. These effects cascade to higher trophic levels by altering food web structure and dynamics, affecting higher-level consumers. Using data on zooplankton, water quality, and annual fishery yields of eel and smelt, the researchers show that neonicotinoid application to watersheds since 1993 coincided with an 83% decrease in average zooplankton biomass in spring, causing the smelt harvest to collapse from 240 to 22 tons in Lake Shinji, Shimane Prefecture, Japan. This disruption likely also occurs elsewhere, as neonicotinoids are currently the most widely used class of insecticides globally.


New global information system to map the extent and fragmentation of free-flowing rivers

Free-flowing rivers (FFRs) support a complex, dynamic and diverse range of global ecosystems, and provide important economic and societal services. However, infrastructure built to use these services – most notably 2.8 million dams worldwide – has caused many rivers to become fragmented and disconnected, affecting river biodiversity and ecosystem services. This study constructed a global information system with which to map the fine-scale dynamics and fragmentation of FFRs and to determine how human pressures affect the world’s river systems.

Read more here


Surge in fishing activity detected ahead of new marine reserve

The announcement of a new no-take fishing zone in the Pacific led to a 130% increase in fishing activity ahead of its implementation, satellite data reveal. Although fishing activity dropped to zero once the marine protected area (MPA) came into effect just over a year later, the study warns that the pre-emptive short-term surge in fishing could have caused long-term ecological damage.

The researchers focused on the case of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, a no-take MPA in the central Pacific that was first publicly announced in September 2013 and came into effect on 1 January 2015.

The researchers hope that this study will generate discussion about the role of information provided in advance of future conservation policies, as well as economic reasons for green paradoxical behaviour. They suggest that reducing the length of policy-design periods could avoid some paradoxical activity, at least in the case of marine reserves.

Read more here


Eutrophication risk in English rivers under climate change

This study shows how climate change may increase the risk of eutrophication (a process in which too much nutrient in water causes algae and higher plants to grow excessively) in slow flowing English rivers, reducing water quality. Algal blooms can be toxic to people and animals as well as requiring additional treatment for drinking water. This study found that residence time, water temperature and exposure to sunlight are particularly important. Managing these factors will help to reduce the risk of algal blooms in the future.

Algal blooms are one manifestation of eutrophication. By understanding future risk, people involved in water quality management can implement a range of cost-effective management solutions to ensure that improvements in water quality in England can be achieved.

Read more here


Research at the EA

Evidence underpins the work of the Environment Agency. Take a look at: the EA’s research programmes; their collaborative research priorities from 2016 to 2020; their publications and information on partnerships.

The research includes improving the quality of the environment and reducing the impact of hazards such as pollution, floods, droughts, climate change. The EA’s research provides the understanding, tools and techniques needed to achieve these outcomes.

The research team’s work includes:

  • providing expert scientific and technical advice, reports and guidance
  • determining scientific priorities for the Environment Agency
  • making sure the EA have the right research in place to meet current and future needs
  • providing a chemical regulatory service on behalf of the UK government
  • identifying future issues and problems and assessing their significance
  • developing innovative approaches and tools to solve environmental problems
  • supporting incident response

Recent research reports and summaries can be found in the EA’s publications catalogue.


How the occurrence and concentration of micropollutants vary across Austria

The presence and accumulation of micropollutants (anthropogenic trace contaminants) in aquatic environments is an area of policy concern for the EU. In order to better understand how these chemicals enter and are transported within water systems, this study investigated the occurrence and concentration of a broad spectrum of micropollutants across Austria’s water system.

The samples were analysed to investigate the concentration levels of a wide range of micropollutant compounds. They included:

  • metals
  • organotin compounds
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
  • perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs)

Municipal wastewater effluents were found to be the emission pathway with the highest concentrations of some micropollutants. The study also demonstrated that levels of other micropollutants are higher in rivers, atmospheric deposition and groundwater than in wastewater effluents and that these sometimes exceeded environmental quality standards for surface waters.

Read more here



Great British Beach Clean 2019 report

The results are in after another successful year of beach cleans and litter surveying across the UK, from Shetland to Land’s End and from Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands. This is organised by the Marine Conservation Society.

At every Great British Beach Clean dedicated volunteers take on the role of citizen scientists and record the litter that they find over 100 metres. This data is submitted as the UK's entry to the International Coastal Clean-up, alongside those of beach cleans globally, contributing to a worldwide report on litter levels and helping to turn the tide on pollution in our ocean for good. For example, Great British Beach Clean data was used to campaign for the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge, and in the years since the implementation of the levy we’ve seen numbers of bags on beaches drastically decline.

See the four-page summary here:


Working together to improve drainage and environmental water quality

This publication is an overview of Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans (DWMPs). It was commissioned by Water UK in collaboration with Defra, Welsh Government, Ofwat, Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Consumer Council for Water, ADEPT and Blueprint for Water.

The document sets out how organisations with interests and/or responsibilities relating to drainage, flooding and protection of the environment can make improvements by working together to create DWMPs.

Read the document here


Welsh National Marine Plan

The first WNMP was published in November 2019. It sets out the Welsh Government’s policy for the next 20 years for the sustainable use of our seas.

Read more here:


Regulating for people, the environment and growth

These are the Environment Agency annual reports on their regulation work and the environmental performance of regulated businesses in England.

The reports provide information and statistics about the:

  • emissions to air from the businesses the EA regulate
  • number of serious pollution incidents and sectors responsible
  • compliance of businesses with their environmental permits
  • reduction in costs for businesses the EA regulate
  • enforcement action the EA take when businesses do not comply

The EA applies the regulatory framework set by government.

Access the reports here:


Marine Protected Areas: Science, Policy and Management

This book addresses a full spectrum of issues relating to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) not currently available in any other single volume. Chapters are contributed by a wide range of working specialists who examine conceptions and definitions of MPAs, progress on the implementation of worldwide MPAs, policy and legal variations across MPAs, the general importance of coastal communities in implementation, and the future of MPAs. The book constructively elucidates conflicts, issues, approaches and solutions in a way that creates a balanced consideration of the nature of effective policy and management.

Key Features: Provides a much needed ‘one stop shop’ for information on Marine Protected Areas; presents chapters from a diverse group of contributors, enabling a broad and deep perspective; includes case studies throughout, providing real-life examples and best practice recommendations.


25 Year Environment Plan: ambition to realisation (CIWEM report)

The government published its 25 Year Environment Plan in 2018, against which progress has been made. CIWEM supports the plan as a way to protect and restore the natural environment we all rely on. However, CIWEM says that to achieve timely and effective delivery of the plan’s ambitions, bodies need to be better supported and the plan needs a statutory footing through the Environment Bill.

In this report they have thoroughly reviewed existing delivery efforts, explored the barriers bodies face and produced a set of six recommendations for government:

  • Update delivery bodies’ objectives to reflect the plan’s priorities, underpinned by a statutory duty on public bodies to consider and enhance the environment
  • Facilitate a systems approach to delivery through improved collaboration
  • Require consistent annual reporting across all delivery bodies for better transparency
  • Support development of skills needed to take forward elements of the plan
  • Review current government funding to address issues on amount and security
  • Support development of innovative private funding routes.

Read the Executive Summary here

Read the full report here


State of Nature report 2019

This report presents an overview of how the country’s wildlife is faring, looking back over nearly 50 years of monitoring to see how nature has changed in the UK, its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. As well as this long-term view, the report focuses on what has happened in the last decade, and so whether things are getting better or worse for nature. In addition, the report covers assessment of the pressures that are acting on nature, and the responses being made, collectively, to counter these pressures.

The headlines in the report state: In this report we have collated the best available data on the UK’s biodiversity, with a focus on the trends in species as the key evidence of how nature is faring. In addition to assessing the state of nature we have reviewed the pressures acting upon nature, and the conservation response being made to counter these pressures, in order to give a rounded view of the UK’s nature in 2019.

Our statistics demonstrate that the abundance and distribution of the UK’s species has, on average, declined since 1970 and many metrics suggest this decline has continued in the most recent decade. There has been no let-up in the net loss of nature in the UK. Prior to 1970, the UK’s wildlife had already been depleted by centuries of persecution, pollution, habitat loss and degradation.

Read the report here


Achieving Zero Harm from Plastics via Water Industry Operations and Activities

Phase 1: Literature Review, Stakeholder Interviews and a Provisional Research Roadmap to 2050

This report is from UK Water Industry Research (ref no 19/EQ/02/2). Oxford University Innovation was commissioned to work with UKWIR to identify and prioritise the key research questions that need addressing to ensure the reduction and removal of plastics (specifically micro and nanoplastics) from the terrestrial aquatic system. The project included a brief desk-based literature review to provide a baseline to inform future discussion around current gaps in the evidence base and to help prioritise challenges for future research and development for the UK and Ireland water industry.

The literature review established that it is widely, and internationally, acknowledged that microplastics are ubiquitous in the water cycle. However, research is still in its infancy; some interpretation of the evidence is unclear and there is a distinct lack of data and/or consensus in many key areas. A lack of scientific evidence does not imply a lack of risk; it reinforces the need for further research in these areas.

Key research gaps identified by the literature review fell into three principal categories:

  • Defining the fundamental nature of the problem (sampling, analysis and characterisation)
  • Understanding the current status and options for removal in Water Treatment Works and Wastewater Treatment Works (WTW/WwTW)
  • Characterisation in sludge from WTW/WwTW.

Various recommendations were made, including:

  • the establishment of a working group including industry, academics and regulators
  • to increase focus of activities on nanoplastics to address a large knowledge gap in properties, toxicity and approaches to removal
  • work with human health toxicologists, ecotoxicologists and regulators to research and define hazard and risk metrics that can be applied to the assessment of ‘harm’ from micro- and nanoplastics
  • conduct R&D on removal techniques.

Access the report here


Sink To River – River to Tap: A Review of Potential Risks from Nanoparticles and Microplastics

This report is from UK Water Industry Research (Ref No 19/EQ/01/18).  The primary objective of this study was to inform the UK and Irish water companies on the levels of microplastic particles present in raw and treated water, wastewater & treated effluent, and the sludges produced by their treatment works. To ensure a representative overview, samples were taken from eight water treatment works (WTW) and eight wastewater treatment works (WwTW) from different companies across Great Britain.

It was found that for water, >99.99% of microplastic particles are removed through the treatment processes, with raw water having an average of 4.9 microplastic particles/litre and potable water having on average 0.00011 microplastic particles/litre. For wastewater, the treatment processes were able to remove 99.9% of the microplastic particles with levels of 5.1 microplastic particles/litre being found in final effluent. As a consequence of the removal rates of microplastic particles through both water and wastewater treatment processes, these materials are present at very low levels in drinking water and in discharges to the environment. For sludge, as a consequence of the removal rates of microplastic particles through both water and wastewater treatment processes, they are present in sludge, with levels of 2,000–4,000 microplastic particles/g dry weight of sludge being typically found.


  • Further development of the standard processes used in this project for future sampling and analysis to enhance sensitivity, selectivity and resistance to environmental contamination during sampling and analysis.
  • Further and more detailed microplastics investigations should be undertaken by the water industry.
  • For the sludges generated as a by-product of the treatment processes used, more investigations should be undertaken on the impact of the presence of microplastic particles on the use of these materials.

Access the report here


Fishing regulations: The Blue Book

The Blue Book is a single collection of UK and EU laws.

Access all sections of the Blue Book here


Microplastics in drinking water

Report from the World Health Organisation. Studies reporting the presence of microplastics in treated tap and bottled water have raised questions and concerns about the impact that microplastics in drinking water might have on human health.

This report critically examines the evidence related to the occurrence of microplastics in the water cycle (including both tap and bottled drinking water and its sources), the potential health impacts from microplastic exposure and the removal of microplastics during wastewater and drinking water treatment.

Recommendations are made with respect to monitoring and management of microplastics and plastics in the environment, and to better assess human health risks and inform appropriate management actions, a number of key knowledge gaps are identified.

Access the publication here


Simple SuDs for Local People: a guide to sustainable drainage in developments

Phiala Mehring, Trustee National Flood Forum, writes:

Drainage is one of those ‘out of sight and out of mind’ type things.  For most of us, the only time we contemplate drainage is when it goes wrong.  In fairness, there wasn’t really a lot any of us could do in terms of maintaining old-fashioned drains other than not putting stuff down them that shouldn’t go down them. But all this is changing.  With the advent of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), drainage is no longer just hidden under the ground.  It is no longer the sole preserve of water companies, drainage & sewerage companies and local authorities.  Residents and community groups can now play a (vital) role in SuDS; in how they are deployed and in how/when they are maintained. 

This guide is designed to help residents and community groups in England understand more about SuDS, how they should be built and how they should be maintained.

Access the guide here


Improving our management of water in the environment

This document constitutes the summary of responses received to the government’s January 2019 consultation, ‘Improving our management of water in the environment’, the government’s responses to the points respondents raised, and their decisions on the proposals.

Summary of the main points from the consultation responses cover:

  • Water Resources Management Plans
  • Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans
  • Water Abstraction
  • Land Drainage: Internal drainage methodology
  • Flood and coastal erosion risk management: raising local funds
  • Rivers Authority: supporting legislation to enable the Somerset Rivers Authority to be formalised
  • Water and sewerage company licence condition modification process; information gathering powers and electronic service of documents under Water Industry Act 1991

Read the report here


The Rivers Trust Review 2018

The Rivers Trust is the umbrella body of the Rivers Trust movement, working to protect, promote and enhance our freshwater ecosystems for both people and wildlife. With the support of 60 local trusts across the UK and Ireland, they work on the ground, in the heart of the community, to embed a sustainable and integrated approach to managing our rivers and their catchments.

Rivers Trusts delivered £19.2m of work to improve rivers in 2017, supported by over 11,000 volunteers, despite challenging financial times for charities.

The trusts now have over 253 local professionals covering nearly every river catchment in England and Wales, with strong growth across Ireland. In England, trusts are critical to the delivery of Government’s Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) and deliver over £8 of work on the ground, for each £1 of public funding. This shows that communities can take a strong lead in delivering the river environment that they value, and Rivers Trusts provide an effective charitable vehicle to deliver high quality and affordable work on the ground.

Read the report here


Marine Planning newsletter – September 2019

This issue includes the development of the draft North West, North East, South West and South East Marine Plans, a report on feedback at Iteration 3 and how it has been used, and completion of the Explore Marine Plans that will replace the MIS tool.

Read the newsletter here


Marine species: protection

Find out about the different marine species and how they are protected by EU and UK wildlife legislation. Many marine species are protected by EU and UK wildlife legislation from intentional or deliberate disturbance, taking, harm and killing, and in some cases possession or sale.

The offences that apply will depend on the species, activity and location. The tables provide a summary of what marine species are protected and by what legislation. Please refer to the legislation directly for details of offences and defences, or contact your local Marine Management Organisation office for further advice.

Some of the species are also protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and are labelled in the guidance.

Read more here


Report: Move water to top of political agenda to deliver environmental and social wins

With more than half of the world's populations set to live in water-scarce regions by 2050, a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has called on policymakers to place water stewardship at the heart of regional and bilateral policy decisions to create various economic, environmental and societal benefits.

The EIU’s Blue Peace Index 2019, developed with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, analysed 24 countries across five transboundary river basins on 74 qualitative and quantitative indicators. The report found that integrating water-based decisions into policy discussions could create a range of shared benefits between nations.

The report found that shared institutions and legal frameworks should be introduced for transboundary river basins in a bid to resolve issues as they arise peacefully. The benefits of doing so, the report notes, range from reduced flooding and drought, protected biodiversity, enhanced energy security and optimisation of investments.

Source of information:

Read the report here



CaBA Forum on Catchment Data & Evidence – 18 September 2019

The focus of this year’s Catchment Based Approach Forum was on the collection and use of CaBA data. This is locally collected data, which is needed to compliment the national evidence base from government agencies and research institutes. The enormous potential for CaBA data to contribute to the 25 Year Environment Plan was a key opportunity identified at the 2018 Forum. A series of discussions, followed by interactive voting, were used to set a workplan for the CaBA National Support Group.

Access the summary here


Restoring Estuarine and Coastal Habitats in the North East Atlantic

Our near shore seas and estuaries in the North East Atlantic have been transformed by human activity with significant losses of key habitats and the services they once provided. We have the capability to reverse some of these changes and there is growing interest in, and examples of, habitat restoration. The REACH North East Atlantic conference brought together experts from academia, government, NGOs and industry to recognise what we have lost, develop an understanding of what we can do and inspire a cause to restore estuarine and coastal habitats.

The presentations from the July 2019 conference can be accessed here