The BLNP submitted the following responce to the EA Challengaes and Choices consultation - Thames, South East and South West river basin districts:
1. What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing waters in the Thames/South East/South West River Basin District?
The Berkshire LNP is mostly part of the Thames River Basin District, but also contains parts of the South East (Test and Itchen and Loddon Catchments)
Significant localised impacts must not be ignored. This includes Interaction with other water bodies, such as canals which can lead to increased pollution and sediment load; bank-side erosion and invasive species. Often the solutions to these problems can be best determined at a local level.
Nutrients, sedimentation and algal growth, invasive species and over abstraction of aquifers are currently some of the biggest challenges. There are also opportunities, such as the recognition of river environments as significant landscape scale corridors for biodiversity.
2. Do you agree with our description of how the significant issues are affecting the water environment and society? Please specify which issue(s) your response refers to and provide relevant information to help explain your answer.
we support the significant water issues as described. In addition, we would hope to see much more emphasis on protection and enhancement of key habitats and species, greater demand side management and an absolute reduction in abstraction at key points.
Although it is difficult to quantify the value of healthy river environments to landscape quality, this should form part of the assessment of issues. It is surprising that catchments located in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or National Parks are not recognised.
3. How do you think these issues should be tackled, and what would you choose to do first? Please specify which issue(s) your response refers to. Please consider any resource implications.
The virtuous circle of reduced diffuse and point pollution leading to benefits for river habitats and lower treatment costs is well known. Greater integration with Environmental Stewardship objectives, control of hazardous substances (such as Chlorpyrifos), managing runoff and incentivising use of lower quantities of inputs are a significant priority.
The use of demand side measures must be accelerated in order to ease pressures on valuable river habitats. Local small‐scale storage will help decentralise supply and reduce reliance on mains water. This applies most obviously among large agricultural, horticultural, fish‐farming and leisure users, but also at the domestic level (e.g. through rainwater harvesting). The potential landscape of possible large new surface reservoirs should be thought of as a last resort.
The Environment Agency and partners need to compel water companies to develop pricing mechanisms aimed at reducing demand, such as banded tariffs, seasonal pricing etc. Furthermore, ensuring greater supply efficiency through reduction in leakages will help to reduce the amount of water required to be abstracted and treated.
Working with developers, planning authorities to make wastewater re-use and other efficiency measures a condition of any future planning permissions. The availability of supply should also form part of the test in determining housing allocations and permissions. Assisting rural and land based businesses to install greater water storage solutions could drastically reduce the demand for water in rural areas.
At present, there are a significant number of initiatives funded by Government, the private and the not for profit sectors. We would like to see a much more integrated and simplified approach to catchment management. The sheer volume of plans and initiatives makes it difficult for partners to engage. For example, in addition to the River Basin Districts, there are Catchment Partnerships and Catchment Management Plans, Demonstration Test Catchment Projects, Catchment Sensitive Farming areas, Water Framework Steering Groups, Flood Forums, Water Resources Management Plans, Love Your River, Living River and RESTORE, to name but a few.
7. Is there any other information that we should be taking into account as part of this strategic environmental assessment?
Management plans for designated wildlife sites, landscape scale partnerships, statutory designations such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Local Nature Partnerships.
The Chalk Stream Charter, published in May 2013.