I am enthusiastic about encouraging sport and recreation in the countryside and wholly appreciate the positive benefits outdoor activities can have for both physical and mental wellbeing. However, I am also conscious of the rights of communities and people who live or work on land adjoining water, and of the absolute need to maintain and preserve our rivers’ environmental integrity. It is vital that we maintain this delicate balance and enjoyment of our rivers and inland waterways by all users. I feel this is best achieved through consensus and local agreement.
I therefore support continuing to use locally agreed, voluntary agreements to increase river access for walkers, swimmers and non-powered craft. The rights of other users, as well as the protection for wildlife and the environment must be important considerations. That is why these sensitive issues can be best handled at a local level rather than a one size fits all approach agreed at Westminster.
Furthermore, I join my Ministerial colleagues’ aim to establish this generation as the first to leave the environment in a better state than it was found in. I am pleased that the Government has improved more than 5,300 miles of rivers since 2010 which has allowed our water environment to be in its healthiest state for 25 years. This has seen a variety of wildlife including otters, salmon and sea trout return to many of our rivers for the first time since the industrial revolution.
In addition to this, since the privatisation of the water industry, around £25 billion has been invested to reduce pollution from sewage, covering improvements in sewage treatment and in sewer overflows keeping our rivers clean.
13th May 2020