A NEW strategy has been designed to help protect chalk streams, including the River Test in Hampshire.

According to North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse the government, regulators, industry and charitable groups have been working hard over the last two years to agree to a set of measures which will restore good health to chalk streams. 

The new initiative is called the chalk stream restoration strategy implementation plan and the formal launch of the plan took place in London. 

This plan is a national first, and while much of the work is already underway, it represents another big step forward 

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Measures include listing chalk streams as high-priority sites, reducing groundwater abstraction in ecologically vulnerable chalk streams, defining all chalk catchments as water-stressed and developing a £2.8 million programme of restoration works for chalk streams.  

Mr Malthouse said: "85 per cent of the world’s chalk streams are found here in England. They are a unique and precious ecosystem, and here in North West Hampshire, we are very lucky to live with the most famous among them, the River Test.

"We all want it flowing with sparkling water and teeming with wildlife, and that’s where this new plan comes in. It’s the result of two years of work between the government, regulators, water and agricultural industries, and environmental and river groups — and they will make sure the plan is underway and being delivered on.  

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"In our towns like Whitchurch and Andover, we’re fortunate to have the active and passionate Whitchurch Conservation Group and The Anton River Conservation Association, who together with Natural England and the Environment Agency are doing everything they can to protect the River Test and it’s tributaries.

"I’ve played my part over the years on issues like pollution in the Anton, and runoff in the Pill Hill Brook and Bourne Rivulet and I will monitor the execution of this plan very carefully. This is great news for our rivers and brooks."