Britains rivers to be designated bathing sites in protection move

Water pollution: Fine companies 75% of profit says LBC caller

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More than 40 Conservatives have called for the Government to set a target for at least 22 new local inland bathing sites across England every five years.

This will help empower communities to clean up their rivers and help people swim safely.

Siobhan Ballie, Tory MP for Stroud, said: “More people enjoying wild swimming has naturally driven efforts to clean up our seas, and they can do the same for our rivers too.

“Designating bathing sites makes it easier to hold water firms to account for the health of our rivers, ensuring they tackle pollution so communities can enjoy our rivers and wildlife can thrive.

“With so few stretches of rivers designated, a target for establishing more bathing sites is needed to bring safe swimming to more places.”

Only two stretches of English rivers have bathing water status – the River Wharfe at Ilkley, West Yorkshire, and Wolvercote Mill at Port Meadow, Oxford.

Polluters and water firms are held to account because the waterways are consistently monitored to ensure swimmers’ safety.

England’s rivers and lakes suffer from a toxic chemical cocktail of pollutants, with only 16 percent in good condition.

Andrew Jones, Tory MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said: “More and more places want bathing water status to detect pollution, ensure our rivers are monitored and give people the information they need to swim safely.

“Only two places along English waterways have been designated, so creating a target will ensure this status protects more of our precious rivers.”

The Conservative Environment Network said a target is needed to ensure more inland sites are designated.

The group also called for the data to be more clearly communicated at the bathing site itself, replicating the success of initiatives like the RNLI’s flag system for safe tides. 

The Daily Express Green Britain Needs You campaign has highlighted the state of the country’s waterways.

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said: “This Conservative government is doing more than any predecessor to tackle the problem; reinvesting fines from illegally polluting water firms into river restoration, mobilising £56 billion of water company investment to tackle storm overflows, and paying farmers to switch to sustainable practices. 

“But there’s far more we can do.”

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