Hertfordshire MPs lead charge to protect our chalk streams with new parliamentary group

PUBLISHED: 13:56 22 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:56 22 September 2020

The River Mimram. Picture: Peter Tatton

The River Mimram. Picture: Peter Tatton

Copyright 2013 Peter Tatton

Two Hertfordshire MPs have set up a new all-party parliamentary group to protect our chalk streams, and the inaugural meeting took place on September 15.

Hertfordshire MPs Oliver Heald, Charles Walker and Daisy Cooper. Picture: Office of the MPs.Hertfordshire MPs Oliver Heald, Charles Walker and Daisy Cooper. Picture: Office of the MPs.

Several rivers in Hertfordshire – including the Lea, Colne, Mimram, Ver, Ivel, Stort, Rib, Quin, Beane and more – are home to a rare locus of local wildlife, flora, and fauna – which North East Herts MP Oliver Heald, vice-chair of the new group, and Broxbourne MP Charles Walker, chair, have campaigned to protect.

Sir Oliver’s constituency includes eight chalk streams and abstraction on the Rivers Beane and Mimram has been reduced as a result of their efforts – while Mr Walker’s runs through Cuffley Brook, a tributary of the River Lea which he described as one the “greatest environmental scandals” in the UK.

MP for North East Herts Sir Oliver Heald standing on the dry riverbed with County Councillor Michael Muir. Picture: Office of Sir Oliver Heald MPMP for North East Herts Sir Oliver Heald standing on the dry riverbed with County Councillor Michael Muir. Picture: Office of Sir Oliver Heald MP

North East Herts MP said: “I am really excited at the prospect of our new All Party Group which is something local river groups support and I hope that this will enable us to make progress on river quality and particularly the issue of abstraction.”

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper, who wants to maintain the River Ver, also joined the group along with more than 20 Members of Parliament.

The River Ver has dried up and St Albans residents are very upset about it. Picture: Sarah FullerThe River Ver has dried up and St Albans residents are very upset about it. Picture: Sarah Fuller

The action has been welcomed by the Ver Valley Society, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and the RevIvel Association.

The Ver Valley Society said: “The River Ver and its Hertfordshire neighbours continue to need more water in them more often to restore and preserve this globally rare habitat. The APPG can usefully influence policies that can make this happen with more urgency.

The River Mimram. Picture: Peter TattonThe River Mimram. Picture: Peter Tatton

Tim Hill, conservation manager at the trust added: “We’re delighted that the APPG on chalk streams was created by two Hertfordshire MPs and hope that the working group can raise awareness about the threats facing our rivers and find solutions so that our chalk rivers can become what they should be – unpolluted, flowing, crystal-clear waters, teeming with life.”

The RevIvel Association said: “We hope it will lead to action on the quality of our chalk streams with particular emphasis on over abstraction and pollution as well as better provision of water for us all in dry regions.

“We are hopeful that there will be a sense of urgency as many of our chalk streams, the upper Ivel included, are in dire need of rapid action to prevent further deterioration.”


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