Environment Agency ‘working flat out’ to limit damage to River Ver in St Albans

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

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

The Environment Agency has provided an update on the River Ver revitalisation project after St Albans district council passed a motion demanding ‘effective action’.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency assured concerned parties that the project is on schedule and that the agency is "working flat out to limit the damage the dry weather is having".

Responding to Cllr Anthony Rowlands, Environment Agency spokesman Peter O'Connor said: "The Environment Agency has funded the project to-date, and we are paying for the design stage.

"Funding has not yet been secured to realise the incredible benefits for people and wildlife this project will bring - all organisations will need to step up and contribute."

The motion for 'effective action' was first proposed by Labour district councillor Malachy Pakenham.

Driving the 'Revitalising the River' project alongside the Environment Agency are Affinity Water, Herts County Council, St Albans City & District Council and Thames Water.

The Environment Agency will hold another public consultation within the next few months before seeking planning permission from SADC in 2020 for the next stages of the project.

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The agency was also keen to remind people that the issues affecting the River Ver take place in the context of a prolonged period of dry weather and the abstraction of water for human consumption.

Mr O'Connor said: "There's a balance between maintaining the environment and meeting consumer demand. The plans will include significant enhancements to the park and the water quality of its artificial lakes.

"Chalk streams like the River Ver need rain after long periods of dry weather. We are working with Affinity Water to reduce by half the amount of water they take from the River Ver by 2024."

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan chairs the National Drought Group, which consists of local government, water companies and environmental groups, and acts as a forum to mitigate issues around dry weather.

The group has put pressure on water companies to reduce abstraction where it causes most environmental harm, to reduce leaks and to improve overall management of the river network.

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