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Double environmental protection budgets in England & Wales to fight river pollution.
River pollution is a rapidly escalating crisis. Every single English river is polluted beyond legal limits by human, agricultural and industrial waste. In Wales, where agricultural pollution is at ever-increasing levels, the majority of rivers also fail to meet ‘good ecological status’. A major cause of this crisis is the collapse of environmental protection for our rivers following years of de-funding of the UK’s environmental regulatory agencies. England’s Environment Agency’s environmental protection funding has been cut by 75% in the last decade. In Wales, Natural Resources Wales has suffered similarly harsh de-funding since its creation in 2013. In both countries the same bleak picture emerges: agricultural pollution of rivers is rampant with farms almost never inspected; water quality is rarely tested and water companies regularly pump raw sewage into waterways with impunity. In England alone, human waste was released into rivers no less than 400,000 times last year. Prosecutions for river pollution are almost non-existent. In summary, polluters can dump waste into our rivers secure in the knowledge that they will be neither monitored, inspected nor prosecuted. In the year that the UK seeks to demonstrate global environmental leadership by hosting the COP26 climate conference and numerous “green” initiatives continue to be launched by governments, we must tackle the crisis on our own doorstep. The UK and Welsh Governments must restore the environmental protection budgets of their respective environment agencies so that water quality monitoring and agricultural inspections can be increased significantly and existing regulations are enforced by the routine prosecution of polluters. The total annual cost of doubling environmental protection budgets will be in the region of £60m – the cost of the construction of less than a quarter of a kilometer of HS2.