Challenges and Choices - EA water management consultation now open

The Environment Agency are seeking your views on the challenges our waters face and the choices and changes we all need to make to help tackle those challenges. Our Water for Wildlife Officer explains why it is vital to engage.

“Challenges and Choices, what is it?” you might be thinking. The more eagle-eyed among you may have linked that as this is a blog from one of the Water for Wildlife officers that it is something to do with water, and you would be right.

Environment Agency Policy

The ‘Challenges and Choices’ consultation from the Environment Agency (EA) will help them to formulate and update the current river basin management plans. The EA is asking essential questions about the water environment: its use, protection, and who pays. They are seeking as many people across the country to respond so they can take into account the widest range of views possible 

The water environment in the UK has an impact on us all. At the most fundamental level, around 60% of the adult human body is water! Many of us use water for recreation, be it swimming, fishing, or kayaking; of course it is used to help grow the food we eat and support businesses, too. Many additional 'ecosystem services' that the water environment provides mean the whole system is worth billions to the UK economy. The EA recognises that we urgently need to protect and improve our waters and find a better balance that meets the needs of people and nature.

Respond to the 'Challenges and Choices' consultation

Water as habitat

Importantly the freshwater environment is home to thousands of species, at least 4,000 invertebrates alone. Many of these species depend on good quality water and associated habitats to thrive, and with just 17% of England’s rivers are in ‘Good’ health it is more important than ever to make sure our rivers and freshwater ecosystems are improved and protected for people and wildlife.

Extra stress is being exerted on our freshwater ecosystems due to unpredictable and increasingly extreme weather patterns because of climate change. This ranges from fish that are struggling to cope in too warm waters to lack of rain that is preventing our groundwater and watercourses from recharging properly. Climate change is having a big impact on our river systems with our chalk rivers suffering the most, and completely drying up in areas. (Read more about the chalk stream crisis here)

The Wildlife Trust BCN works on a number of important watercourses across the region, including large main rivers such as the Great Ouse and chalk rivers like the Cam, on projects protecting and enhancing the natural environment, including protecting and monitoring water voles, invasive species removal, and river restoration.

Have your say: responding to the consultation

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 24th April 2020

You do not need to answer all the questions in the consultation. The EA want as wide a range of viewpoints as possible, and don’t want to put anyone off answering because the whole consultation may seem too technical.

The EA's short video introducing ‘The Water Story’ and why the consultation is happening (above) is well worth watching to get a feel for the reasoning behind the consultation. 

And if you are still not sure where to start then not to worry! On the consultation homepage you can view already published responses to help stimulate your thoughts and prompt ideas of what you want to include. Don’t worry if someone has already written something you were going to write about, write it anyway. The more similar responses the greater the weight it adds to the argument.

Respond to the 'Challenges and Choices' consultation

We are facing a unprecedented changes to our environment and our waterways, and it's vital that we have our say on how the Environment Agency should proceed.

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Corn bunting (Milaria calandra) singing in hedgerow at an arable farm in Hertfordshire. April 2011. - Chris Gomersall/2020VISION