Welcome to your source of quality news, articles, analysis and latest data.

Consultation started in Ilkley to create Britain’s first river swimming place

Creation of the first dedicated bathing water place in a UK river has taken one step forward after a consultation on the proposals was held by the government.

A portion of the River Wharfe in Ilkley, popular with swimmers and children, will be the only river in the nation to be specifically regulated from May through October to insure that the water is of high quality.
During a campaign run by Ilkley Clean River Group, local people and businesses voted overwhelmingly for the bathing water status before submitting the application to the government.

On Friday the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs put the idea out for an eight-week consultation.
Campaigners want the classification to be established to insure that further stringent monitoring is carried out on the water and to avoid the river being used to dump waste from overflows as it rains. In Britain there are no rivers with designated status for bathing water, unlike countries like France where there are 573.

“Local people and agencies all support the application and have worked hard to prove how much we need it, so we anticipate a positive outcome,” said Becky Malby, of the clean river campaign. “People living in Ilkley expect our sewage to be treated, not dumped straight into the river every time it rains. We were shocked to find that our river was being used as an open sewer. We have stories of children getting sick as a result of dipping in the river. This is a disgrace. Bathing status is a critical step in cleaning up our river.”

In 2019, water corporations dumped raw waste into rivers through storm overflows for 1.5 m hours. River activists are calling for the rolled-out of bathing water status in common river swimming areas to compel water providers to avoid the discharges.
When bathing water status is given to the River Wharfe it would be tracked along the coastal waters boundaries, which are classified as outstanding, decent, adequate or bad. Campaigners are hoping that this will lead to other rivers gaining the designation, forcing water companies, the Environment Agency and the government to invest in solutions to stop the discharges.

The Environment Agency chair, Emma Howard Boyd, told the Guardian that if people wanted rivers to be designated for bathing water, it would be a “game changer” that would require more government funding.
Defra said if effective, it would indicate that a part of the river that runs through Ilkley will be periodically checked during the swimming season (15 May to 30 September) for bacteria detrimental to human safety.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “We protect people’s health at popular swimming spots across the country by requiring the water quality at those sites to be regularly monitored. At present, 93% of bathing waters in England have ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ water quality.

“I encourage local residents to take part in this consultation so we can have as many views as possible to inform our final decision.”

The region under consideration for the River Wharfe lies between Ilkley Main Bridge and Beanlands Island.

Share Post
Written by
No comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.