Strategy to Restore and Protect England’s Chalk Streams Launched

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.