The Chalk Stream Restoration Working Group, set up by Catchment Based Approach partners including Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural England, water companies, Ofwat and eNGOs, has set out a series of recommendations to protect and restore England’s rare chalk streams.
The Chalk Stream Strategy primarily recommends enhanced status for chalk streams, through a statutory designation, to drive investment to prevent pollution and over-abstraction, as well as restoring habitat to boost biodiversity. Other recommendations focus on the three key components of ecological health: natural flow, clean water and natural habitat.
Examples of recommendations include:
- Endorsing the use of integrated constructed wetlands at small, remote works where conventional treatment is too difficult or expensive and of catchment-scale nutrient-reduction strategies.
- Creation of an accurate chalk stream map and online data and information hub.
- Development of a simple, replicable and standardised monitoring initiative, covering the key
components of habitat, biology, quality and flow.
- Introducing compulsory rules for farming in chalk stream catchments that are adopted into the new Sustainable Farming Incentive.
- Working with water companies and other partners to deliver a national network of flagship catchment restoration projects.
- Setting a target for “sustainable groundwater abstraction” in chalk stream catchments.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:
Chalk streams are both incredibly rare and a hugely important part of our environmental heritage.
That’s why on behalf of the government I called for the creation of an independent CaBA-led working group, the Chalk Streams Restoration Group last year and welcome its ambitious strategy. Action is in progress wherever possible with our flagship projects programme underway. A third of the strategy recommendations are already being taken forward by government, regulators and other CSRG members.
I look forward to seeing how the work progresses and continuing to work together on ways to further protect and restore this vital habitat.