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River Wye

Designate new river bathing sites across England, says environment manifesto

A new manifesto announced by the Conservative Environment Network outlines six ways the government can tackle river pollution, including the designation of at least 22 new inland bathing sites every five years.

The Conservative Environment Network (CEN) has unveiled a new manifesto outlining six ways the government can tackle river pollution.

One of the proposed policies calls for the designation of at least 22 new river bathing sites across England every five years. According to the CEN, this initiative would “empower communities to clean up their rivers and help people swim safely,” and “ensure data about bathing water quality is easily available and clearly communicated to bathers.”

Integral to bathing water applications, farmers would be supported to ensure all sources of river pollution are reduced, including the improvement of slurry storage.

Invest the fines

Other proposals of the manifesto include introducing clear labelling system to stop unflushable items from blocking sewers, and to invest revenue from water company fines into river restoration schemes.

The policy would see all money raised from fines handed out by the Environment Agency (EA) allocated to a new government fund or given to a third party to provide communities with grants to clean up their local waterways.

Forty MPs and peers have signed the manifesto, including MP Phillip Dunne, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee. He commented: “Chronic river pollution is now delaying development across the country, slowing economic growth. This year’s drought has also exposed that we have neglected our water security for too long. All of these challenges are being made worse by climate change.

“There are no quick fixes, but this manifesto sets out six pragmatic, conservative ideas that will finally start tackling these long-term challenges. I’m delighted that so many Conservative colleagues are backing this CEN campaign to clean up our rivers.”

Welcome proposals

Mark Lloyd, CEO of The Rivers Trust, also commented: “The Rivers Trust warmly welcomes these proposed policies from the CEN. We hope very much that the government will take them on board as a contribution to its commitment to delivering the 25 year environment plan and leaving a better environment for the next generation.

“There has never been greater public concern about the water environment. These measures could be an important part of a broader strategy to restore our previous rivers and lakes to good health.”

To read the manifesto in full, visit

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.