Farmers claim credit for clean rivers

5 November 2001

Farmers claim credit for clean rivers

By FWi staff

LANDOWNERS claim farmers are responsible for improvement in river quality identified by a new survey from the Environment Agency.

The agency has revealed that rivers in England and Wales are probably cleaner than they have been since the industrial revolution.

The latest data suggest there has been a substantial improvement in the chemical quality of rivers since 1990.

About 94% of rivers – equivalent to over 38,000km – were classed as good or fair in 2000, compared to just under 85% in 1990.

Environment Agency chairman Sir John Harman said the billions of pounds being invested in cleaning up rivers was bearing fruit.

“The overall quality of river water has improved dramatically over the last 10 years,” he said.

“As a result, otters, salmon and an abundance of fish and birds have returned to waterways, including many in urban and industrial heartlands.”

Tanya Olmeda-Hodge, head of environment at the Country Land and Business Association, said credit should go to farmers and landowners.

“Land managers are applying successful cultivation measures and nutrient budgeting which have improved river quality,” she added.

At the same time farmers were reducing their own costs, so it was essentially a win-win situation, she said.

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