Caught by the River

Westminster Bridge Over Troubled Waters

28th November 2009

An update on the Our Rivers campaign, from Nik Shelton.

Hi Jeff,

Had a great day with Ceri Levy recently, thanks for putting us in touch. I strong-armed him into coming on a fungal foray – so he’s now a mushroom expert. The film he’s making sounds really exciting, I can’t wait to see it. Although given how long it took him to make the last one I may be waiting a while. But good things come to those who wait, as any decent angler or birder knows.

I’m just writing to let you know about a trip the Our Rivers campaigners made to the big smoke this week to knock on the Government’s door.

It may have been a bit strange for passers by to see some respectable women in waders and some chaps in suits wielding a large map of the UK’s river network haranguing environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies on Westminster Bridge. In fact we did get one or two curious looks from Japanese tourists trying to get a holiday snap in front of the House of Commons.

The ladies in waders were members of the Wandle Trust and Action for the River Kennet, two groups who are campaigning for their local rivers on issues like pollution which kills fish and other wildlife and over abstraction which is causing rivers to dry up. The chaps in suits were representatives from the RSPB, the WWF, the Angling Trust and the Association of Rivers Trusts who have formed the Our Rivers coalition.

We grilled the minister on the River Basin Management Plans which are due to be published next month and which will set out how rivers in England and Wales are cared for between now and 2015.

To his credit he was well informed, eager to listen and articulate on the issue – although whether that will translate into ambitious plans that will protect the wildlife of our waterways and riverbanks, or whether politics will intervene, remain to be seen. But with the mighty Father Thames surging beneath us towards the open sea carrying the waters of a thousand tributaries, streams and brooks, we hope he got the message loud and clear that there are many people willing to stand up to protect wild trout, eels, kingfishers, water voles, otters and all the other wildlife that makes its home along the UK’s rivers.

I’ve attached some pics from the day if you’re interested. Here’s who’s in ‘em.
River Campaign059

059 (l-r) Charles Butt (RSPB), Dr Bella Davies (Wandle Trust), Rose Timlett (WWF), Huw Irranca-Davies, Ralph Underhill (RSPB), Mark Lloyd (Angling Trust), Charlotte Hitchmough (Action for the River Kennet), Archie Ruggles-Brise (Association of Rivers Trusts).

all the best,