Environment secretary ‘impressed’ by River Nidd bathing water bid
Jan 18, 2024
Steve Barclay (left) and Andrew Jones

Harrogate and Knaresborough’s Conservative MP Andrew Jones has briefed new environment secretary Steve Barclay MP on the bid to designate the River Nidd as a bathing water.

If the bid is successful, the Environment Agency will be obliged to work with Yorkshire Water, farmers, businesses and residents to put in place a five-year plan to improve water quality in the river.

The campaign, which Mr Jones has led, is focused on the Lido at Knaresborough because of the number of leisure users it attracts but the changes would be felt along a much wider stretch of the river.

The bid has been backed by local councils, wild swimmers, anglers and community groups who have submitted letters of support to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A decision is expected in spring.

After the meeting, Mr Jones said:

“Mr Barclay has taken up post since I submitted the bid and so I wanted to brief him personally.  While a decision is yet to be made, it was clear to me that he was impressed with the information gathered by local volunteers and the many letters of support.

“The Nidd is used by hundreds of people for recreation.  The bid is about helping them to do that in a consistently cleaner and healthier environment with water quality that shows sustained improvement.

“The main cause of pollution in the Nidd is run-off from farmland which contains chemicals from pesticides and animal waste.  The farming community upstream are key partners for our campaign for better water quality.”

Mr Jones added Yorkshire Water was investing £180 million over two years to reduce the operation of storm overflows, which stop sewage from backing up into homes. He added:

“There is also a legacy of mining along the Nidd.  When the abandoned mine workings flood iron, zinc, lead, cadmium, aluminium, manganese and copper leach into the river.

“So it is a complex issue needing the input of many different groups.  That is why it is important that we have an agreed plan backed by the Environment Agency.”

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