St Albans councillors put pressure on Environment Agency to save River Ver

PUBLISHED: 14:30 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:48 17 October 2019

St Albans residents campaigning to save the River Ver. Picture: Sarah Fuller

St Albans residents campaigning to save the River Ver. Picture: Sarah Fuller

Archant

Councillors are putting pressure on the Environment Agency to save the dried-up River Ver in St Albans.

The River Ver is a chalk stream running through Markyate, Flamstead, Redbourn, St Albans and Park Street, and environmental campaigners from The Ver Valley Society have held demonstrations to protest its lack of water.

In a St Albans district council meeting last week, councillors demanded 'effective action' to reduce the abstraction of water from the riverbed, in a motion which was first proposed by Labour Cllr Malachy Pakenham.

Speaking after the debate, Cllr Anthony Rowlands, who chairs the River Ver and Verulamium Lake working group, said: "It is absolutely crucial that the Environment Agency takes effective steps to ensure that the River Ver recovers along its whole length.

"We need the agency to commit funding for the project to revitalise the river from St Michael's to Cottonmill. The agency has already demonstrated support for the project by funding the design stages and some early tree work but we need them to commit funding for the whole project.

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"That is why we wanted to send the strongest possible message to both the Secretary of State and the Environment Agency. It is about putting pressure on those who hold the purse strings."

Affinity Water abstracts tens of millions of litres of water per day from the River Ver aquifer (an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock).

The company reduced the volumes abstracted in 2016, and has announced it plans further reductions by 2025.

Earlier this year, chalk stream degredation across the UK was labelled 'one of the greatest environmental scandals' of this century.

There are only 200 chalk streams in the world, 85 per cent of which are in England, but only 25 per cent of those are intact and in good condition.

Cllr Chris Davies, who represents Verulam Ward, said: "With the River Ver crisis and East of England receiving the lowest rainfall across UK, massive action is required across all centres of influence, which is one of the Forum key reasons why this issue will be on the agenda of the Verulamium Park Consultative."

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