Changes announced to better protect England’s chalk streams

The Government has brought forward changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) to help better protect England’s chalk streams.

The proposed amendments would add chalk streams into the definitions of ‘environmental protection’ and ‘natural environment’ in the Bill, meaning that the Government must consider chalk streams when setting the outcomes which will form the framework of environmental assessments in the future.

The amendment should enable Defra to ensure that Environmental Outcome Reports suitably reflect chalk stream interest when they are developed with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. It will ensure that chalk streams are specifically named in the bill, recognising the value of these distinctive habitats.

England is home to 85% of all chalk streams and, according to Defra, restoring these internationally important habitats is a government priority. In their Plan for Water, Defra recognised chalk streams as having special natural heritage and defined chalk streams as priority sites in their Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan with a target of 75% reduction in harmful spills into these rivers by 2035.

Water Minister Rebecca Pow said:

“Chalk streams are both incredibly rare and a hugely important part of our environment. Today’s amendment adds to actions already taken by the government to protect them, including ensuring funding is invested in projects to help restore them – as set out in our Plan for Water.

“They are iconic habitats, home to specific wildlife, and the UK is home to approximately 95% of the world’s chalk streams – so it is beholden upon us to look after them and we are demonstrating that we have committed to doing just that.”




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