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News stories from 2012

Last updated: 17 January 2012.

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December 2012

Mon, 31 Dec 2012: Jobs: Morecambe Bay Partnership: Better Bathing Waters Co-ordinator: If you're passionate about improving the quality of beaches and seas, this job in Kendal could be for you. Closing date: 7 January 2013.

Sun, 30 Dec 2012: "Walking With The River's Roar": Congratulations to one of our most creative "river artists", Richard Long, who's just been made a CBE. Many of his pieces have been inspired by rivers - along them, between them, or from the source to the sea. You can find a selection of his "textworks" on his website.

Sun, 30 Dec 2012: Congratulations to Martin Spray, CBE!: Well done to Martin Spray, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust's Chief Executive, who's just been an awarded a CBE for his work for wildlife conservation. Many of us who've encountered Martin over the years, either at WWT or in his previous role as head of BBOWT, will recognize that this award is well deserved indeed.

Sat, 29 Dec 2012: Angling Trust stand up to hydropower: Mark Lloyd of the Angling Trust has written a storming blog about the risk new hydroelectric schemes pose to fish. It's good to be reminded about this, not least because so many people in the States have been working so hard to remove old damaging hydroelectric schemes over the last few years and decades; the last thing we want to do is repeat those American mistakes. Having said that, it would be good to see some some recognition in Mark's piece that we do, urgently, need to develop clean, green energy somehow. We have to protect rivers and their biodiversity, but climate change is the biggest looming threat to both—and without large-scale green energy schemes of some sort, the future looks very bleak indeed.

Sat, 29 Dec 2012: How Britain went from a drought to a deluge as south-west is drenched again: The Guardian investigates one of the wettest years in recent memory.

Fri, 28 Dec 2012: Northern Ireland toughens up on sewage: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has just revealed that compliance with wastewater legislation has increased from 84% in 2007 to 93% in 2011.

Fri, 28 Dec 2012: Celebrating pond life!: When I was at school, "pond life" was an insult; these days, nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks to great progress from groups like Pond Conservation, there's more recognition that ponds are excellent ways to bolster freshwater biodiversity. You can help PC's excellent work by becoming a Pond Protector. Follow the link to find out how.

Sun, 23 Dec 2012: Road Battle of Hastings continues: Well done to the ground- and tree-based activists who are doing their utmost to resist clearance work for the Bexhill-Hastings link road.

Sun, 23 Dec 2012: Water companies go mad for YouTube: If out-of-tune singing workmen are your thing, you'll love a rash of recent videos that have appeared on YouTube from our various water companies, including Southern Water's version of the 12 days of Christmas and Sewerman Style from Thames (their own subterranean reworking of the ubiquitous Gangnam Style).

Wed, 19 Dec 2012: The secret world of salinity: We're pretty good at detecting saltiness in food; not so good at detecting changes in salinity in our rivers and oceans. New research, summarized in this article by ENN's Andy Soos, shows how the world's "salinity field" is changing due to a variety of human pressures.

Sun, 23 Dec 2012: I'm NOT dreaming of a wet Christmas: There are currently over 500 flood alerts and warnings in place all over the country as the heavy rain continues. The South West is hardest hit so far. If you're near a river, keep your eye on the Environment Agency website for the latest info.

Sun, 23 Dec 2012: River Alyn: A 98% Balsam-bashing success!: Some heap scorn on the exhausting practice of Himalayan balsam bashing. However, North Wales Wildlife Trust has reported a major success story with the beastly alien invader, cutting the plant by 98% on the River Alyn since 2009.

Sat, 22 Dec 2012: River Eden Trust makes farms river friendly!: Hats off to this marvellous group in the North West who've been working with 80 farms to bust agricultural pollution under the "Water friendly farming" initiative.

Sat, 22 Dec 2012: Combe Haven Defenders dig in against new road: Determined local people and experienced activists have taken to the trees between Bexhill and Hastings to slow progress of a destructive new link road. Now they're calling for help, support, donations, and whatever else you can offer. Despite claims that the road is being built to solve traffic problems, Council leader Peter Jones has confirmed that "The road will make it possible to build 1,200 to 2,000 new homes and business park space of 50,000 square metres." In other words, it's the same old story of greedy infill development: the new road will quickly fill with traffic and local people will have lost a precious area of tranquillity, forever, for no reason whatever.

Thu, 20 Dec 2012: WWF reports 126 new Mekong species: Some good news on biodiversity in the Mekong river region: a new report from WWF charts a raft of amazing new species, including "82 plants, 13 fish, 21 reptiles, 5 amphibians and 5 mammals... along with recommendations on how to protect them and their habitats from poaching and unsustainable development and agriculture. The Greater Mekong region spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan."

Wed, 19 Dec 2012: Northern Ireland fishers still ditching prime cod: The scandalous practice of dumping prime fish overboard continues as Northern Ireland fishing boats wrestle with strict quotas.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012: Bag up fatty, bag up fatty, for the reggae!: Surfers Against Sewage have launched a new campaign to encourage people to back up cooking fats, oils, and greases, which block sewers, causing raw sewage overflows into rivers and seas.

Mon, 17 Dec 2012: Congratulations to Professor Ian Trueman: Well done to botanist Professor Ian Trueman, winner of The Wildlife Trust Christopher Cadbury medal for services to nature conservation through a long and distinguished career in environmental education.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012: Public water use still very much a problem in the South East: I've been probing yesterday's water abstraction data a bit more closely. Here's a chart I've just produced showing how much water is being abstracted for public water supply in the eight regions of England and Wales. It's pretty much as you'd expect: progress in the North, Midlands, and South West, but cause for concern in Anglia, Wales, Thames, and the South East, where the rate of abstraction for public water supply is either flat or steadily increasing. Since (as we know) the public water supply system isn't nationally interconnected like the electricity grid, it doesn't make sense to show aggregated figures for the whole country: good progress in one region doesn't make up for problems elsewhere, though national figures will (misleadingly) make it seem that way.

Tue, 18 Dec 2012: Good news on water abstraction... or not? [PDF]: Defra has just put out the latest figures on water abstraction (water removal from rivers, other surface waters, and groundwaters), apparently showing an impressive fall over the last decade: "Direct abstraction of water from non-tidal surface and groundwater in England and Wales has shown a steady decline from an estimated 15,063 million cubic metres in 2000 to an estimated 11,399 million cubic metres in 2011." That sounds wonderful but, as we've come to expect from official figures, there are devils in the detail. One thing to note is that there's been relatively little progress since 2007; most of the improvement occurred between 2000 and 2007, followed by an increase in abstraction between 2007 and 2010. The 2011 figures really just start to put us back where we were a few years ago. There's been a very significant increase in water abstraction for agriculture since 2006. And while abstraction for public water supply was significantly less in 2011 than in 2010, the data is choppy and it's hard to be certain the trend is going down, especially given the growing pressure to build new housing.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012: Emergency restocking of the Grand Western Canal: Local angling enthusiasts have been helping the Environment Agency to tackle a catastrophic collapse of the canal at Halberton, Devon, which has left thousands of fish stranded on drying land in nearby fields.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012: Zac Goldsmith attacks Cameron over GM: One-time Conservative environmental adviser Zac Goldsmith has switched to attacking David Cameron for "political deception" over GM crops, the Telegraph reports.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012: Walk: Exploring "Liquid London": Walking enthusiasts might enjoy a guided walk through London led by Anne Tickell, taking in hidden rivers, the not-so-hidden Thames and its role in trade, coffee houses, pubs, and more. The walk takes place on 16th January starting at Mansion House Tube Station.

Fri, 14 Dec 2012: Where do black swans come from?: A recent unusual visitor to Belfast prompts Linda Stewart to probe the mystery of the black swan.

Fri, 14 Dec 2012: Winners of WWT Photography Competition 2011/12: The stunning winners of this year's wetland wildlife photo challenge have just been revealed.

Thu, 13 Dec 2012: Fracking sends shock waves through the environmental movement: A new government go-ahead for fracking (hydraulic recovery of extra deposits from oil and gas fields) has provoked widespread condemnation from green groups, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and CPRE.

Thu, 13 Dec 2012: Government's "hugely disappointing" announcement on marine zones: The Government will "press ahead with its plans to create Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to protect the UK's rich marine environment", it announced this week, but RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts said they were "disappointed" with the plan's lack of ambitions.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012: 5000 new fish for the South East: The Environment Agency has just restocked Penton Hook on the Thames, the River Wey at Eashing and Elstead, Blackwater in Camberley, Ashtead Lake, the River Cherwell in Thrupp, Bracknell Mill Pond, and Rye Dyke, High Wycombe with over 15,000 fish which have been reared at its own fish farm.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012: River progress from the Wear Country [PDF]: The Wear River Trust newsletter for Autumn 2012 makes interesting reading. You'll find progress reports on the River Deerness, Lumley Park Burn, and updates on the great educational work the Trust is doing.

Tue, 11 Dec 2012: Beavering away in Devon: In this BBC radio programme about "rewilding", Chris Sperring discovers how beavers are getting on in Devon in an experimental project run by Devon Wildlife Trust.

Sun, 9 Dec 2012: Is your washing machine connected up properly?: Media coverage of bad plumbing, "misconnections" (a technical term meaning you've got your plumbing pipes discharging into the wrong place), and river pollution may have set you wondering: is my own washing machine (and the rest of my plumbing) hooked up properly? You can check with the handy "Connect Right" website from the Environment Agency, backed by a coalition of water and plumbing groups.

Fri, 7 Dec 2012: Surfers and wind farmers share the waves in Brighton!: Good news from Surfers Against Sewage: prospective wind-farm developers have taken "onboard" (geddit?) the concerns of the surfing community to protect some of the best-loved waves on the South Coast.

Fri, 7 Dec 2012: At last: positive action for the River Kennet: Great news for the River Kennet this week: a new 19km (12 mile) pipeline between Reading and Thatcham should greatly reduce pressure on the over-abstracted south-central river. Action for the River Kennet, who've been campaigning on this issue for many years, said they were "delighted" by the news. Well done to them for keeping the issue in the headlines.

Fri, 7 Dec 2012: Salmon are polluting our rivers!: Not intentionally, of course! A new scientific study by Gary Lamberti and colleagues at the University of Notre Dame has shown how salmon are carrying industrial pollutants in and around the Great Lakes as they swim back and forth.

Fri, 7 Dec 2012: Biodiversity offsetting is no way to go: In a timely echo of the point we made last week, Guardian columnist George Monbiot argues that attractive compensatory schemes shouldn't be used to argue the case for highly damaging developments.

Fri, 7 Dec 2012: Snowdonia pumped storage plan under fire?: Plans for a new £100 million pumped-storage hydro power station in Snowdonia are meeting opposition from people concerned about the impacts on the national park.

Thu, 6 Dec 2012: New DVD: Rivers: Working for Wild Trout: What do you buy your river-mad friends and family for Christmas? How about the Wild Trout Trust's new DVD. From the description: "In 'Rivers: Working for Wild Trout' angling author and WTT vice president Jon Beer meets up with Wild Trout Trust Conservation Officers Andy Thomas, Tim Jacklin and Paul Gaskell visiting three differing trout streams to look at ways the Trust has helped in improving the habitat for the trout and also shows ways that they go about doing it.

Thu, 6 Dec 2012: River Lea still under pressure: The poor old River Lea! Despite a great boost from the Olympics, it's still suffering from disappointing water quality, as the latest figures from University College London reveal in this blog post by Thames 21. What can you do to help? If you happen to live in the area, check out Thames 21's long-running Love the Lea campaign page.

Wed, 5 Dec 2012: WWF: Developed countries "made a mockery" of climate negotations: As the world lurches blindly toward the precipice of irrevocable climate catastrophe, and the latest climate talks in Doha have broken down in despair, WWF has accused richer nations of failing to deliver.

Sun, 2 Dec 2012: Is DIY plumbing REALLY polluting rivers? According to today's Observer, "hundreds of thousands of homes" with "misconnected drains" are "leading to raw sewage being increasingly pumped into Britain's rivers, killing wildlife". Doubtless this is true - and it's obviously very unwelcome news. But this is one of those stories where reading critically is very important. First, according to Surfers Against Sewage, the UK still has 31,000 combined sewer overflows (CSOs) pumping raw sewage into rivers and seas at times of heavy rainfall - and that is surely a much bigger problem. Second, as the European Commission noted (and we reported) a couple of weeks ago, agricultural runoff is the biggest pollution problem in all river basin districts in the UK - and the UK government has no clear strategy and no obvious plan for dealing with it other than very weak voluntary incentives for a tiny minority of farmers. Yes, let's immediately address bad DIY plumbing with building laws and regulations (bad DIY electricity was outlawed years ago); but let's also address the much bigger issues of municipal sewage and agricultural pollution.

Sat, 1 Dec 2012: Did dredging cutbacks contribute to floods?: The Telegraph's Louise Gray asks whether cutbacks in unglamorous dredging contributed to last week's spectacular floods.

November 2012

Fri, 30 Nov 2012: More pumping cuts pollution risk from Wheal Jane: Heavy rainfall has prompted fears of flooding from the historic Cornish mine into the environmentally sensitive Carnon River and Fal estuary, but Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service have stepped up to help solve the problem.

Fri, 30 Nov 2012: Cameron makes U-turn on flood-defence cuts: The government has miraculously found another £120 million for flood defence, which is long overdue since, as the Guardian reminds us, every pound spent on flood defence saves eight pounds on cleanup costs. Meanwhile, Defra has strenuously denied The Guardian's charges that flood defence schemes have been scrapped due to government cuts.

Fri, 30 Nov 2012: Cutting water pollution with.... an app: Apparently "there's an app for it", even if "it" is finding water pollution. Cunning techies in Israel have found out how to show smartphone users when nearby lakes, rivers, and seas are likely to be polluted.

Thu, 29 Nov 2012: Why do people buy houses in places prone to flooding?: According to Vanessa Barford, in this thoughtful BBC News piece, it's because the guaranteed benefit of living somewhere nice and riverish outweighs the gamble of floods.

Tue, 27 Nov 2012: How farmers can cope with super-wet weather: Natural England is taking a relaxed view of the rules attached to Environmental Stewardship schemes to help farmers cope with the temporary deluge.

Tue, 27 Nov 2012: Citizens: step forward for science and biodiversity: Hands-on amateur science is a good way to help monitor biodiversity, according to the Natural History Museum.

Tue, 27 Nov 2012: Wildlife Trusts: Still not the "greenest government": A survey organised by Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link), a coalition of 39 leading environmental charities, has given the government a "green traffic light" on just 2 of its 20 commitments to protect the environment.

Mon, 26 Nov 2012: Minerals industry supports new pond conservation, but...: Excellent news from Pond Conservation that the Minerals Products Association is backing the creation of new ponds, which can be far more effective ways of boosting biodiversity than expensive schemes aimed at lakes and rivers. However, we'd insert a cautionary note that the promise by developers to create new ponds should not be seen as a powerful incentive to rip up pristine, existing countryside. Too many questionable developments offer inadequate mitigation and compensation measures as a substitute for trashing ancient woodlands, unspoiled rivers, and green fields.

Sun, 25 Nov 2012: Flooding misery: chickens come home to (wet) roost: Two years ago, you might remember the Guardian's Damian Carrington repeatedly highlighting Caroline Spelman's absurd decision to cut flood defence budgets effectively by about 25 percent (officially 8%, while David Cameron pretended the budget was "roughly the same"). Last year's dry Autumn was a godsend for politicians happy to wield the knife; this year, 816 homes (and counting) aren't so lucky. Earlier today, Mr Cameron found time to tweet about "Shocking scenes of flooding... Govt will help ensure everything is being done to help." Bit late for that now, isn't it? Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, environment minister Richard Benyon disingenuously "claimed 24,000 homes in the south-west had been protected by new flood defences. Speaking to the BBC, Benyon said: 'That does show the importance of continuing to spend capital on flood defences.'" Indeed, Mr Benyon, but what about all those cuts? Now in a globally warming world, floods will happen more and more and flood defences can't protect everything, everyone, everywhere. Even so, some of the people standing up to their ankles, knees, or waists in flooded homes—and doubtless floods of tears—would surely have been saved the misery and despair that they're experiencing now; with the exception of Damian Carrington, I've yet to see a single journalist pointing out the government's culpability.

Sun, 25 Nov 2012: Are new flood defences working?: It's a tough job being a flood barrier—and new schemes always come in for criticism. What many people fail to realize is that the water has to go somewhere, so if you block it in one place, it's probably going to reappear elsewhere. Read the reactions of Worcestershire residents to new flood defences in this BBC article.

Sun, 25 Nov 2012: SAS says return to offender!: Surfers Against Sewage continue their provocative campaign against packaging manufacturers by encouraging people to pick up marine litter and post it back to its source. They scored an interesting victory with Speedo a few years ago. After deluging the beachwear brand with old Speedo packaging found discarded on beaches, one of their managers fired off an angry and bitter public response, which led to huge public humiliation, and a rapid climdown; Speedo is now an SAS sponsor. Let's hope more over-packagers see the light.

Fri, 23 Nov 2012: Environment Agency: Latest on the floods: Get the Agency's latest updates and warnings as the flood waters move north.

Fri, 23 Nov 2012: Can we get children back to nature?: Lots of people are talking about this at the moment, but film-maker David Bond is trying some direct action with his Project Wild Thing.

Wed, 21 Nov 2012: WWT campaign means swift progress on lead: Wildlife and Wetlands Trust has done great work in recent weeks highlighting the continuining threat to waterbirds from lead shot poisoning (according to their research, one in three waterbirds sampled suffer from lead shot poisoning, and one in ten die from it). Here's a summary of the campaign so far.

Wed, 21 Nov 2012: Buglife steps up pressure on neonicotinoid pesticides: As part of its long-running campaign to fight pesticides that disrupt pollinating insects such as bees, Buglife has been lobbying the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee this week.

Mon, 19 Nov 2012: WWF: Get serious on climate, David Cameron!: WWF reminds David Cameron of his husky-hugging days. With worrying talk of four to six degrees of global warming, things are looking very bleak indeed without immediate, decisive action.

Mon, 19 Nov 2012: Judicial reviews are an essential environmental safeguard: Far from slowing down the planning process, legal challenges are an essential safety check, argue countryside campaigners CPRE.

Mon, 19 Nov 2012: Millions of birds in collective nose-dive: according to RSPB, some 44 million birds have been lost since 1966, "at an average rate of a nesting pair every minute".

Sat, 17 Nov 2012: What's the state of our inland waters?: Further to yesterday's post, I've now had a chance to leaf through the latest report from the EU (dated 14th November 2012) on the UK's ongoing efforts to implement the Water Framework Directive— or, in plain English, the current state of our rivers, lakes, and other inland waters. You can download the full 62-page report by going to this link, scrolling to Country-specific assessments, and selecting UK from the drop-down list. Among all the charts and statistics, you'll find the UK is specifically criticized (pages 4 and 60) for: 1) An over-reliance on chemical measurements of water quality and too little use of biological asssessments; 2) Too little effort to identify the pressures on river basins; 3) "A large number of exemptions have been applied" without obvious explanation or justification; and 4) "Despite agriculture being identified as a significant pressure, no new mandatory measures have been agreed in the plans. Voluntary measures listed rather than mandatory measures. Diffuse pollution from agriculture was for instance identified as a major pressure there appear to be no new additional measures to address this."

Fri, 16 Nov 2012: Look how bad our rivers really are: There used to be an annual autumn charade in which the Environment Agency and Defra "spun" water quality figures for rivers and lakes into a major success story (for example "Quality of Rivers in England and Wales best for over a century", Environment Agency, September 2009), while NGOs and more judicious journalists pulled them apart and revealed that the true picture was quite different ("Why are our rivers so dirty, and what can be done to make them cleaner?" asked The Independent, also in September 2009). Now our obligations to clean up rivers are based on European law (the Water Framework Directive), standards are higher and there seems to be less official willingness to present a fair assessment of how rubbish many rivers really are. Where is this year's announcement about rivers being the best for over a century? Did I miss it? Maybe. What I didn't miss was the publication, at the end of October, of the most recent European assessment of rivers and lakes affected by pollution. On our water quality page, you'll see a shameful map from the assessment revealing that, with the exception of the Scottish Highlands, the UK's rivers and lakes are almost entirely classed as 50–70%, 70–90%, or over 90% "affected by point source and diffuse source pollution pressures" (a euphemism for "polluted"). Do please reblog, retweet, "reFacebook", re-whatever.

Thu, 15 Nov 2012: Sellafield prosecuted over waste lapses. Again: Sellafield is going to be prosecuted for trying to dump four bags of low-level radioactive waste in a landfill, the Environment Agency has confirmed.

Thu, 15 Nov 2012: New lock gates for Aire and Calder Navigation: Bulholme Lock on the Aire and Calder Navigation has a spanking new set of gates, the Canal and River Trust reports.

Wed, 14 Nov 2012: Carrington wishes the greenest government goodbye: The Guardian's Damian Carrington has been writing the obituary for David Cameron's greenest government almost since it came to power. With new revelations about its utter antipathy to wind power, he pens the final words today.

Wed, 14 Nov 2012: Northern Ireland forecasts climate change: While British government ministers deny climate change and do their best to roll back planet-protective measures, Northern Ireland's environment minister has warned about weather changes to come as global warming kicks in.

Mon, 12 Nov 2012: Giant new Mersey port gets green light: A GBP300 million port development on the River Mersey in Liverpool seems certain to go ahead.

Mon, 12 Nov 2012: RSPB: Electricity from trees 'dirtier than coal': A new report backed by RSPB argues that converting power stations to run on biomass will produce 49 per cent more emissions than burning coal, which is bad news for water quality since air pollution often ends up "deposited" in rivers, lakes, and seas.

Sun, 11 Nov 2012: Water companies accused of profiteering. Again: The Observer carried a report about water companies' excessive profits and minimal taxes, but the companies accused have ready responses, as always: they need to make profits to invest in the future of our water system, they'll pay the tax eventually, the cheque is in the post, etc etc.

Wed, 7 Nov 2012: WWF: Drought and flood risks? Government scores badly in new report: More coverage of the latest Blueprint report. According to WWF: "Britain is still at risk of both flooding and water shortages next year because the government has been too slow about changing the way water is managed".

Tue, 6 Nov 2012: Packham and Attenborough: young naturalists are a dying breed: TV nature supremos Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham are doing their best to encourage children to get outdoors and discover nature.

Tue, 6 Nov 2012: Is triclosan poisoning our rivers, lakes, and ponds?: The ubiquitous antibacterial and antifungal chemical triclosan may be a ticking timebomb, slowly building up in watercourses, plants, and the human body. Although it's regulated in the USA and Europe, no-one seems to be monitoring what happens to it when it enters wastewater. Another example of how our short-term obsession with home "cleanliness" can "dirty" the environment in the long run.

Tue, 6 Nov 2012: SAS: Water quality results worst in a decade: Latest news from the pollution-busting Cornwall group shows sewage is still a big problem for rivers, seas, and beaches: "This year's alarming bathing water results expose 35 UK beaches failing to meet out-dated water quality and public health standards. 2012's wet summer has shown the sewerage system just can't cope. 2012’s poor performance will be highlighted in next year’s bathing water standards and again in 2015 when these shocking results are used for revised European bathing water standards based on 4 consecutive years of water quality results."

Tue, 6 Nov 2012: Water resources need proper planning: The Blueprint Coalition has told the government that vitally important national water resources shouldn't be left to the mercy of the weather. BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin posts a typically incisive reports.

Tue, 6 Nov 2012: Wandle champions write a book!: Two champions of the reborn River Wandle, Bob Steel and Derek Coleman, have written a marvellous new book about the river: The River Wandle Companion and Wandle Trail Guide, packed with photos and maps.

Tue, 6 Nov 2012: Blueprint: 10 steps to sustainable water: And here's the Blueprint Coalition's own report—and their recommendations for making water work.

Mon, 5 Nov 2012: Severn Barrage backers urge support, but not everyone is convinced: Hafren Power, currently proposing a GBP25bn plan for a tidal barrage between Cardiff and Weston Super Mare, insists government support is needed soon. Provisional opponents are waiting to see the detailed plans before (probably) slamming the scheme. David Fitzpatrick of Cynnal Cymru (Sustain Wales) told the BBC: "We really should be thinking about not producing the energy in the first place, not trying to find something that could be a white elephant."

Mon, 5 Nov 2012: Agency seeking views on Tidal Dyfi flood risk strategy: Environment Agency Wales is asking local people for their views on plans to manage flood risk and protect an environmentally sensitive area north of Aberystwyth. The area, close to the Afon Leri and Afon Clettwr, was one of those hit by flooding in June this year. It also includes the environmentally important Cors Fochno which is home to rare plants and animals.

Fri, 2 Nov 2012: CPRE attacks unnecessary road schemes: From countryside campaign group CPRE: "CPRE believe the priority for a new roads programme will devastate our precious countryside. New roads are being promoted on the ill-considered leap of faith that road building can deliver economic growth and regeneration."

Thu, 1 Nov 2012: Cyclists: please play fair on the towpaths!: Militant cyclists hate careless and inconsiderate car drivers, but on congested river and canal towpaths, the tables are turned and pedestrians often come off worst.

October 2012

Tue, 30 Oct 2012: Make fish the dish for 2013: A new Defra campaign hopes to boost the fishing industry (and sustainable fishing) by encouraging more people to eat a wider range of fish.

Tue, 30 Oct 2012: Catchment farming grants give rivers a boost: Natural England's "Catchment Sensitive Farming" initiative is making GBP21.5 million available this year to help farmers carry out improvement works that will improve drinking water quality and enhance local wetland environments, for example, by reducing agricultural runoff from fields and keeping cattle out of rivers.

Mon, 29 Oct 2012: Rivers: Friend and Foe?: There's another chance to see the river episode of the BBC's Human Planet: "Human Planet joins Sam Niang, a Laotian fisherman, as he walks a high wire strung above the raging Mekong River rapids on an extraordinary commute to work. There's also a look at the remarkable partnership between Samburu tribesmen and wild elephants in their search for water in the dried-out river beds of Northern Kenya. Plus, a father who must take his two children on a six-day trek down a frozen river - the most dangerous school run on Earth, and the ice dam busters of Ottowa with their dynamite solution to a city centre hold-up". You can find it on the iPlayer for another week or so.

Mon, 29 Oct 2012: Old King Coal beats back dash for gas: Climate campaigners are (rightly) drawing attention to a dangerous resurgence in coal power—the biggest increase for 50 years.

Sun, 28 Oct 2012: USA: Exploring the Bark River: Jacki Lyden joins former professor Milton Bates, author of the Bark River Chronicles, to learn about the lovely Wisconsin river where she grew up.

Sat, 27 Oct 2012: New Thames bridge takes shape in Walton: A £32m bridge linking Walton-on-Thames and Shepperton is heading toward completion next year. It's the first new Thames crossing for 20 years, apparently.

Sat, 27 Oct 2012: Wildlife Trusts: Go nuts for Autumn wildlife!: Children looking for a new way to explore wildlife and have fun over the Autumn can now become true nature nuts, with The Wildlife Trusts' new Wildlife Watch Awards.

Fri, 26 Oct 2012: FoE takes action over marine pollution from gas plant: The European Commission has started infringement proceedings against the UK Government's approval of a controversial new power station, which opened in Pembroke, Wales last month. According to FoE, it will dump heat into the highly protected Milford Haven waterway, killing millions of fish and other marine species every year.

Thu, 25 Oct 2012: Environment Agency celebrates cutting-edge flood defence: Flood defences made of glass, water gates that close by themselves and trees that stop water flooding town centres may seem fanciful, but are all now being built and used by the Environment Agency to reduce flood risk to homes and businesses across the country. True enough, but let's not forget all those government cuts to the flood defence budget that are (before much longer) going to come back to bite.

Thu, 25 Oct 2012: Return of the roads?: Ill-advised roadbuilding schemes wrecked many river landscapes in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; there's apparently renewed enthusiasm for them from the "greenest government", despite many studies showing that increased road capacity simply scales up traffic problems.

Tue, 23 Oct 2012: More join the call to act on lead shot: Following a recent study showing the continuing damage from lead shot, more animal protection groups (RSPCA, RSPB and Humane Society International/UK) have joined Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust to promote alternatives.

Mon, 22 Oct 2012: Celebrate Autumn at a National Nature Reserve: Natural England is encouraging us to get out and about at NNRs!

Mon, 22 Oct 2012: Surfers score legal milestone on sewage discharges: Way back in the mid-1990s, Surfers Against Sewage helped to change water policy with some well-directed legal action against water companies. Now they're fighting round two, with a very impressive victory. In their own words: "Surfers Against Sewage is celebrating the decision of the European Courts of Justice ruling that Northumbrian Water and Thames Water are illegally discharging raw sewage via combined sewer overflows (CSOs). This ruling sets a precedent that will send shock waves around the UK water industry, highlighting the overuse of CSOs as a means to discharge untreated sewage onto UK beaches and into rivers. Thanks to data from its pioneering Sewage Alert Service, SAS are uniquely placed to identify further offending CSOs similarly breaching the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) and will deliver this damning evidence to the government." Great news for rivers, seas, and beaches if they pull it off!

Mon, 22 Oct 2012: Young farmers learn to be river-friendly: Start 'em young is the new approach from the Environment Agency and partners. Over the next couple of months, it's helping students from three Midlands agricultural colleges to learn about better farm management to protect our water environment, under an initiative called "Great Farm Challenge 2012".

Mon, 22 Oct 2012: Rambling along the River Usk: In this week's Ramblings programme, Clare Balding walks with Simon Evans and his family along a tributary of the Usk, in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf. Simon is a passionate fisherman and river conservationist who works for the Wye and Usk Foundation.

Mon, 22 Oct 2012: River Thames aliens ahoy!: A boom in alien-invader species on the Thames is bad news for the economy of the river as well as its ecology, as Beth Allcock reports for The Wharf.

Fri, 19 Oct 2012: Join your local Towpath Taskforce!: The Canal and River Trust is encouraging more of us to volunteer our support with its hands-on Towpath Taskforce groups, aimed at like-minded people who want to get involved, get their hands dirty and make a difference to their local canal or river.

Fri, 19 Oct 2012: Northern Ireland coastal defences backfire on beaches: Not for the first time, coastal defence work has caused unwanted beach erosion further along the Northern Ireland coast.

Wed, 17 Oct 2012: Dragon Deborah backs the green economy: TV entrepreneur Deborah Meaden has spotted a big business opportunity in the green economy. With the help of green NGO bosses, she's doing her best to win round the (not at all) "greenest government ever".

Wed, 17 Oct 2012: NGOs meet with Peter Hain to raise concerns about Severn Barrage: The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and a group of environmental and angling Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have met Peter Hain MP to raise their concerns about the impact of a tidal power barrage which he is championing for the Severn Estuary. The Severn Estuary is one of the largest estuaries in Europe and is of international importance for its wildlife and is a unique landscape.

Wed, 17 Oct 2012: Swallows and Amazons: back from the brink: The real-life inspiration for the famous boathouse in the classic children's book 'Swallows and Amazons' has been restored to its former glory thanks to the enthusiasm of a Lake District farming family and a helping hand from Natural England.

Wed, 17 Oct 2012: Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012: The results are in, the photos are up! Find out who's won on the Natural History Museum's website!

Fri, 12 Oct 2012: Climate change sees Arctic shipping double: If you thought a melting polar ice cap might wake up the world to global warming, think again. Over the last 12 months, the volume of Arctic shipping has increased by over 75 percent.

Fri, 12 Oct 2012: More Heathrow = more air pollution deaths: It's too easy to dismiss the row over a third Heathrow runway as a lot of NIMBY nonsense; a new study warns that air pollution deaths could treble if the plan goes through. Poor air quality equates, in a more roundabout way, to poor water quality, since air pollution often comes back down to ground (and water).

Thu, 11 Oct 2012: It's flood awareness month: The Environment Agency will launch a four-week campaign on Monday (October 15, 2012) aimed at raising public awareness of flood risk. Five years on from the summer floods of 2007, events will be held across the south east, from flood fairs to open days, to encourage individuals and communities to be prepared for potential flooding.

Thu, 11 Oct 2012: Farming Today looks at rivers and flooding: The excellent BBC Radio 4 programme tackles a subject close to our hearts, with contributions from soil scientist Professor Rob Simmons, The Eden Rivers Trust, and DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon.

Thu, 11 Oct 2012: Community action in Leicester busts problem rivers: A public awareness campaign mounted by student volunteers aims to change behaviour that harms waterways in central Leicester.

Wed, 10 Oct 2012: What's the economic, recreational value of a river?: Can you put a number on the value of a river to a local community? Blogger and paddler Zachary Podmore tries to do just that in a great article for the Huffington Post about the Colorado River.

Wed, 10 Oct 2012: How are dolphins doing on the river Ganges?: From WWF: "In a new survey organised by WWF and the government of Uttar Pradesh in northern India, a total of 671 river dolphins were spotted along a 2,500km stretch of the river Ganges (Ganga) and its tributaries. The aim of the project wasn't just to map the populations of this rare mammal (one of only four river dolphin species in the world) but also as an awareness-raising campaign in local communities.

Wed, 10 Oct 2012: New troubles over Irish salmon plan: A plan to protect Irish salmon with PGI (protected geographical indication) status (think "Cornish pasty") is causing consternation north of the border.

Tue, 9 Oct 2012: Green groups join forces to bust bags: Groups including Surfers Against Sewage and the campaigning wing of Lush Cosmetics have targeted the Conservative Party Conference as part of an effort to see free plastic bags banned in shops. While it's great to support anything that cuts litter and improves the immediate environment, let's not get distracted from big problems by easy feel-good environmentalism.

Wed, 10 Oct 2012: Will global warming make fish smaller?: An interesting new scare story about climate change: warmer oceans will mean less oxygen, prompting fish to grow smaller and move to cooler waters.

Mon, 8 Oct 2012: What can water users expect from Ofwat's Jonson Cox?: Are you raising an eyebrow about the decision to appoint Jonson Cox as head of Ofwat? If so, it's worth looking back through media reports of his previous form at Anglian Water. In November 2010, the Daily Mail greeted his departure from boss of Anglian to head of UK Coal with the headline: "The £10m water fat cat: Unions savage pay-out to boss who quits for another monopoly". But then that was the Daily Mail! So... how will Cox cope as chief water regulator? Can he effectively regulate companies he previously worked for? How will he balance his Ofwat work with his continuing work as boss of UK Coal? You can hear his own responses to these questions in the answers he gave at the July 2012 pre-appointment hearing held by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Sun, 7 Oct 2012: New bridge over untroubled water: Locals are being asked their views on a proposed new suspension bridge over the River Tees in County Durham.

Sun, 7 Oct 2012: Mission to save the Gangetic river dolphin: Eighteen boats, 14 NGOs, and dozens of volunteers are setting sail on the "Save Ganga, Save Dolphin" campaign to help India's critically endangered Gangetic river dolphin (Platanista Gangetica).

Sat, 6 Oct 2012: Sparkling new swing bridge for stroud: Canal fans in the lovely Gloucestershire town have a proud new swing bridge over the Cotswold Canals.

Thu, 4 Oct 2012: Invasive shrimp shows up in the West Midlands: An invasive shrimp (Dikerogammarus haemobaphes) related to the infamous "killer shrimp" has shown up in the River Severn and two canals in Worcestershire.

Thu, 4 Oct 2012: Anglers: shot is still killing fish!: Anglers have been conscious of the environmental impact of lead shot for decades, but a new report from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust shows that: "poisoning from spent lead shot is still a major cause of death more than ten years after legislation was introduced to reduce the threat".

Wed, 3 Oct 2012: Britain: vital home to wetland birds: Latest research from RSPB shows that Britain plays a vital role for wintering waterbirds frozen out of continental Europe.

Wed, 3 Oct 2012: Jonson Cox is the new Chairman of Ofwat: Former water-industry boss Jonson Cox is the new head of the water regulator Ofwat, the government announces.

September 2012

Fri, 28 Sep 2012: Farmers make over 3000 applications for river-friendly grants: Farmers have submitted applications for more than 3000 Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) grants this year to help reduce run-off pollution into rivers, lakes, and inland waters.

Fri, 28 Sep 2012: Million ponds project goes from strength to strength [PDF]: Pond Conservation has announced the second stage in its impressive project to improve water quality and biodiversity by creating new ponds. The next phase of the project will see the creation of 30,000 clean water ponds over the next 7 years, up to 2020. Well done to everyone at Pond Conservation on their progress so far.

Fri, 28 Sep 2012: Surfers take water education to Scotland and Northern Ireland: Surfers Against Sewage is continuining its tour of schools this October with trips to Scotland and Northern Ireland. The SAS education team are starting off on the East coast of Scotland at Dunbar and finishing at beautiful Castlerock Beach in Northern Ireland.

You'll find older stories from 2012 (from November 2011 to October 2012) on our Facebook page.

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