South Hams’ beautiful River Avon is one of 20 rivers nationwide that have been highlighted by the Wildlife Trusts as being at particular risk from pollution. It is on the list of shame for the damage caused by humanand farmyard sewage, pesticides and fertilisers, which crowd outwildlife by promoting the growth of algae, sucking the light and oxygen away from plants and animals. Polluted water has also been linked to illnesses ranging from stomach upsets and rashes to hepatitis and E.coli infections.As The Wildlife Trusts’ chief executive, Craig Bennett, states, it is a ‘national disgrace’.

The report says of the River Avon: “Rising in Dartmoor and flowing to the south Devon coast, the Avon is home to scores of wildlife, including herons, egrets, trout and salmon.Experts have recorded high levels of phosphates, which is cited as a central reason for declining numbers of salmon, alongside the impact of the Avon Dam, which starves the river of gravels for the fish to lay their eggs in. The pollution carried by the river ultimately endsup in the sea, where it also harms coastal habitats, and has all but closed down the local shellfish industry.”

In the face of such an appalling situation it beggars belief that the Government intends to extend the time limit for some polluters to clean up their act until 2040. Now it plans to scrap a number of existing clean water regulations under Rishi Sunak’s post-Brexitbonfire of red tape (the Retained EU Law Bill).

Guy Pannell, LibDem Cllr for South Brent Ward says: “It is heartening to learn that there is a group of Conservative MPs uneasy at this move, but will our local MPs Anthony Mangnall and Gary Streeter, vote against it? I doubt it. If you care about our rivers, our wildlife and our public safety, please write to your MP asking them to oppose this legislation, of whicheven some Tory Peers say Parliament would be doing the nation a great service if it did not let the Bill go through. 

Our rivers, including the precious River Avon, reflect the health of our nation.”