Why do we need a Catchment Management Plan?
Most of the UK’s rivers are not as healthy as they should be. Although many have improved dramatically over the past few decades, current problems include pollution, invasive non-native species, over-abstraction and physical modifications such as weirs. As a result, wildlife has disappeared from many of our rivers and people are finding other places to spend their leisure time.
This problem has been recognized at a European level, by the Water Framework Directive.
This is a piece of European legislation, which states that all waterbodies (rivers, lakes, seas) in the UK must be in ‘good ecological status’, i.e. be clean and healthy, and contain the ‘right’ type and number of animals and plants. The UK has a legal obligation to meet this target.
Why the catchment-based approach?
The Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency (EA) are tasked with getting our rivers to ‘good ecological status’. Catchment Management Plans are a key part of their strategy for doing this. Previous attempts by these organisations to manage river catchments and reach their WFD targets failed, because the plans were too large, too generic and didn’t include local people. This time, the approach is very different.
The new approach will create plans that are specific to each catchment, as each river has different challenges and opportunities. Instead of being imposed ‘from above’ by Defra, this Catchment Management Plan will be developed and carried out by a partnership of local people who have an interest or stake in the river.
More information on the catchment-based approach can be found here.
What will the plan be like?
Our catchment plan is map-based. You can get an overview of the catchments as a whole, or focus on those areas you’re especially interested in. The map shows details of planned and ongoing projects, which we hope will improve the health of the rivers. Projects are colour coded, to indicate whether they are potential, planned, ongoing, or completed. This information will be updated as projects progress, and new ones are started. You can browse projects by their location via the Catchment Plan Maps. You can also find details of how you can get involved to help make the catchments better places for people and for wildlife.
Who is writing the plan?
No single organisation or individual is responsible for creating the plan. Instead, the emphasis is on collaboration and partnership working. The catchment partnerships will develop the plan, and drive it forward to achieve real, on-the-ground action for our rivers.
Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) are ‘catchment hosts’ for the most of the catchment partnerships within the Lea, with the exception of the Luton Lea (Groundwork) and the London Lea (Thames21). The role of catchment hosts is one of co-ordination and organisation; it is their job to bring the partnership together and drive the process forward. They also act as the single point of contact for everyone involved in the process.
When will the plan be finished?
It won't - we see the plan as being dynamic and constantly changing – it is not a static document that will sit on a shelf somewhere gathering dust! Over the next few years the plan will be updated as new projects begin, ongoing projects progress and existing projects are completed. Keep checking back for updates!