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River Lark pollution report and action plan wins support of MP Jo Churchill

A major report detailing how to tackle River Lark sources of pollution over the next decade has been published.

The Lark Pollution Report and Action Plan is a major milestone for the River Lark Catchment Partnership, the community-based charity working with key water and environment organisations.

The report has been published at the same time a Tuddenham snorkeller discovered diseased fish during a River Lark swim.

Restoration work at Fullers Mill. Picture by Steph Holland
Restoration work at Fullers Mill. Picture by Steph Holland

On Sunday, Nicola Crockford swam the river at Mildenhall and discovered ‘gungy sediment’ floating downstream and a number of roach suffering fin rot.

The report and action plan provides evidence of the poor health of the River Lark and identifies how to improves its water quality.

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill is actively leading the action plan. She said: “I am delighted to work with the action group, taking steps to ensure our valuable chalk streams and their special eco-systems are protected and revitalised.

“This report helps to direct our action to bring our chalk streams back to health so our environment and wildlife are able to thrive for now and the future.”

Andrew Hinchley, of the River Lark Catchment Partnership (RLCP), said the charity welcomed the report, which it had been invited to adopt.

The River Lark Pollution Review and Action Plan is the work of a collaborative action group of organisations including Anglian Water, the CamEO, Environment Agency, Norfolk Rivers Trust, the Rivers Trust, and the Riverfly Partnership.

Chris Gerrard, of Anglian Water, said: “Around 85 per cent of the world’s chalk streams are found in the UK, many of them in our region. Anglian Water fully supports plans to protect and enhance the unique habitat they provide and is working hard to mitigate any impact it has on them from its own activity.”

Geoff Brighty, of the Rivers Trust and Norfolk Rivers Trust, said: “Certainly, parts of the Lark do still remain in a state resembling what you could expect a chalk stream to look like. However, for the most part the Lark has been degraded.

“While there remain questions of why the Lark is reaching new lows, the river has recently faced three years of hot, dry summer weather and sustained abstraction, coupled with the combination of point source and wider catchment diffuse pollution from both town and land management. This is leading to a potentially lethal, unsustainable combination of increasing pressures of pollution and water demand. This has a moral and a legal imperative – this should not be happening.”

Geoff Brighty, report team leader, will be giving a free webinar on the pollution report at 7pm on Wednesday.

Register at www.burywatermeadowsgroup.org.uk

See the report at www.riverlark.org.uk

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