Oxfordshire’s landscape is defined by its rivers, streams, and canals. With eight major rivers (the Leach, Windrush, Evenlode, Glyme, Cherwell, Oxon Ray, Ock, and Thames), smaller tributaries, and the Oxford and Wiltshire & Berkshire canals, there is prime access to waterways throughout the county. Yet out of the 101 water bodies in the county, only 5% have a ‘Good’ status under the European Water Framework Directive. We need urgent action to improve the quality of our waterways. Healthy rivers and streams increase biodiversity and leisure opportunities, providing economic and health benefits to local communities.
To improve the quality of our waterways, we need to work together to come up with a solution. A Blue Flag standard would provide a clear vision for the quality standards we expect ourrivers to meet. A programme that engages the community could support local interest in our rivers and provide another opportunity to care for our water quality. We must also support a study of the economic, social and environmental value of our rivers to understand the additional potential that might be achieved if we could return these rivers to a healthy state. Finally, engagement with Thames Water and the Environment Agency is vital. We need clear, financed plans to address the current standard of our local rivers and to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place ahead of further growth plans.
This response was submitted by the CPRE