Rivers Nidd and Ure named among UK’s most polluted rivers
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Last updated Feb 2, 2024
The River Nidd at Knaresborough

A report from the Angling Trust has found the Nidd and Ure to be among the most polluted rivers in the UK.

The results are contained in the first water quality monitoring network report published by the organisation, which represents anglers.

The report is based on the findings of 641 anglers from 240 angling clubs who monitored pollution on 190 rivers.

Twenty flyfishers from four clubs on the Nidd collected 165 water samples from 13 locations over a period of a year as part of this national project, which the Angling Trust has hailed as ‘the UK’s largest citizen science water testing’ project.

The report found 83% of English rivers now show evidence of high pollution and deteriorating water quality. 

An Angling Trust press release said:

“Mapped catchments with the highest phosphate site averages were the Medway; Swale, Ure, Nidd and Upper Ouse; Severn Middle Worcestershire; Loddon and tributaries; Wey and tributaries; Warwickshire Avon; Ribble; Hampshire Avon; Upper and Bedford Ouse.”

The Ure at Boroughbridge.

The Nidd flows through Pateley Bridge and Knaresborough as well as many villages near Harrogate. The Ure passes through Masham, Ripon and Boroughbridge.

The organisation conducted the Water Quality Monitoring Network testing as part of its Anglers Against Pollution campaign. It also did so because of reduced essential testing from the Environment Agency.

Angling Trust chief executive Jamie Cook said:

“The first annualWater Quality Monitoring Network report proves that across the country rivers are suffering from too much phosphate which is extremely damaging in freshwater.

“We need to see much more enforcement and an update of existing laws to tackle the scourge of river pollution and hold polluters to account.”

The Nidd has been the subject of an ongoing clean-up campaign dating back to the formation of the Nidd Action Group in October 2022.

It organised sampling along the length of the Nidd in August and October last year, which found high levels of phosphates and E.coli in much of the main river and also its becks.

David Clayden, chair of Nidd Angling Group, said:

“Yorkshire Water has proposed to reduce phosphate levels from discharges from its assets, and Nidd Action Group intends to scrutinise the delivery of those improvements and the actual results of their actions over the next several years.”

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones has led a campaign for the Nidd to achieve bathing water status at the Knaresborough Lido, which, if achieved, would lead to measures to improve water quality.

Andrew Jones (right) and Environment Secretary Steve Barclay discuss the bathing water status bid.

The application was submitted to the government in October 2023. A decision is expected in spring.

The Stray Ferret previously reported concerns about the Nidd, including reports of bathers falling ill with sickness, as well as wider pollution concerns. 

A report claimed that the equivalent of 317 Olympic swimming pools worth of raw sewage was discharged into Nidd in 2020. 


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