THE Westcountry Rivers Trust, the leading authority on Devon's waterways has reacted to the government's latest plans for tackling pollution in our waterways.

In the plans, Defra outline how it will address the challenges our waterbodies continue to face.

Plastic-based wet wipes and forever chemicals are highlighted as areas on which to concentrate. In addition, there is a pledge to secure fines levied against water companies for the direct improvement of local waterbodies via a Water Restoration Fund.

Catchment based thinking

WRT said: 'Our charity is underpinned by a catchment-based approach, one which creates interconnected and effective outcomes for our environment. This plan states an integrated method such as this is the best way to 'manage supply and pollution pressures' with key actions noted as:

• delivering catchment action plans backed up with new funding to improve all water bodies in England.

• more funding for catchment groups and catchment-scale partnerships that coordinate to drive action and investment where the river needs it most.

Some of the other topics mentioned include the removal of redundant water modifications such as disused weirs to help restore natural processes, devising farming schemes to make space for nature and consulting on environmental improvement farming laws. Sewage infrastructure, road building, and Sustainable Drainage Systems as standard in new developments are also cited in the plan.

Westcountry Rivers Trust CEO Dr Laurence Couldrick said: 'As expected, there is much to unpack in the Plan for Water, and we will be taking time to review and reflect on its content.

“We welcome the fact that as we head towards our 30th year of restoring and protecting Westcountry freshwater habitats, there is now such interest in their health and all they do for us and the biodiversity they support.

'A collective approach to swiftly address the poor state of our waterways has always been needed but we are encouraged from individuals to the Government, everyone will pitch in to put freshwater first.

'Across Cornwall, Devon, and into Somerset and Dorset, we look forward to working with our Defra, Environment Agency, Natural England and other colleagues to see this plan deliver the positive change our rivers in the region need.'