Our members were appalled to read the article in Andover Advertiser, October 13, entitled River health: it’s not all doom and gloom by Kit Malthouse MP, which showed a staggering level of complacency.

The fact of the matter is that there is a pattern of steady decline in the health of our precious chalk streams.

The 2014 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report into the state of England’s chalk streams found that only 23 per cent of chalk streams met the required ‘good’ status. However, according to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, only 14 per cent of our rivers are currently in good ecological health and none are in good chemical health. This includes the River Anton and the River Test.

The Government promised to get our rivers into ‘good overall health’ by 2015 and, later, revised that to 2021. Both of those targets were missed. The Government now says rivers won’t be clean and in good overall health until 2063. 

Mr Malthouse’s reference to £2.8m being spent in the Environment Agency's latest initiative to enhance our chalk streams is just what the WWF 2014 report identified as “too little, too niche, too slow”.

It called for an urgent, effective and determined effort to push for the essential changes and to significantly upscale the solutions being trialled in chalk streams.  The response has been totally inadequate.

Our chalk streams continue to suffer from groundwater and surface water over-abstraction, sewage pollution and agricultural pollution caused by run-off of sediments, pesticides, manure and fertilisers among other factors.

We cannot trust Southern Water to deliver any improvements. Along with the other water companies, they have dumped sewage into our rivers and coastal waters for many years, with little regard for public health and wildlife.

They have been guilty of serious failures in the operation of sewage treatment plants and have deliberately misreported their performance.

They are now overburdened with debt and borrowing costs. Water privatisation has failed.

Readers should not be fooled by Mr Malthouse’s blandishments.

Water management is a public service and should be in public hands. The Green Party is the only party calling for water companies to be brought into public ownership. Register to vote and use it!

Jonathan Cotterell


Test Valley Green Party

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