An Overview of Aquatic Pollutants Arising from Highway Run-off

The South West has the most extensive road network of any area i the UK. In this report, our Evidence & Engagement Officer Ian Townsend highlights aquatic pollutants from highway run-off.

An Overview of Aquatic Pollutants Arising from Highway Run-off

Blue-Green Systems publication 2021

‘This research addresses the need to transform success in technical understanding and practical implementation of surface water management (SWM) interventions at a site-scale towards integrated landscape-scale management.’

Read the full publication here: From site-focused intervention towards landscape-scale surface water management using Synthetic Stream Networks and Rapid Scenario Screening | Blue-Green Systems | IWA Publishing (

Sponge 2020 Evidence Review

Find out more about our Sponge 2020 project.

River Fowey Electrofishing Report 2020

Read the results of our electrofishing surveys on the River Fowey in 2020.

Fowey EF Report 2020

River Camel Electrofishing Report 2020

Read the results of our electrofishing surveys on the River Camel in 2020.

Camel EF Report 2020

River Tamar Electrofishing Report 2020

Read the results of our electrofishing surveys on the River Tamar in 2020.

Tamar EF Report 2020

Our Statement on Beavers

Westcountry Rivers Trust – Position Statement Beavers 2021.

Reintroduction of Beaver

The European Beaver has been re-introduced to our rivers and they will have some significant implications that need objective, impartial investigation to allow all concerned to evaluate the impacts, compensate for losses and control problems efficiently and effectively. 

These implications include but are not limited to:

  • The upstream and downstream cumulative impediment on migratory fish
  • Improving base flows and attenuating flood water and over topping of river water
  • De-stabilising of engineered flood defense levees
  • Flooding of agricultural land
  • Increased debris blocking of culvert trash screens
  • Retention of sediment, nutrients and pollutants within dam sections
  • Improvement in non-dammed spawning gravels through decreased sedimentation
  • Reduction in number of gravel beds due to pooling in dam-based sections
  • General shifts in fisheries populations to more sessile species 

These positive and negative impacts must not be over or under stated and must be delivered in an un-emotive manner to reduce the likelihood of polarising the debate. 

For a successful evaluation of these impacts there must be a robust independent assessment, as well as a mechanism to remove all beavers if the negatives outweigh the positives either in total or within specific catchments or areas within catchments. 

Where conflict exists, there must be clear governance to show how decisions to control populations are made and any control must be adequately resourced and have the necessary derogations in place to enable a swift response.

Our Statement on Wild Swimming

As always, and for whatever activity, if people choose to access rivers we want them to do so safely and legally. 

The river movement’s overarching body The Rivers Trust provides a guide to wild swimming and we encourage everyone to take a look at all of their hints and tips, particularly the Good river safety routines

The Trust is keen to promote access to our rivers in all shapes and forms as it strongly believes if you can’t access a river, you can’t enjoy it and if you can’t enjoy it, you are less likely to want to protect it.

However, this should be with the permission of the landowner as there is no general legal right of access.  

Activities at single points, like wild swimming, fishing or playing in the river, are a great way to experience this environment and, when done with landowner permission and in sympathy to nature (i.e., following the Countryside Code), are a great way to enjoy this amazing habitat.

Where there are open access agreements (such as the moors) this is relatively straight forward but outside of open access land, and above the tidal limit, access to rivers needs landowner permission.

If you are fishing you also require a rod license alongside the beat owner’s permission.

Access along the length of the river, whether canoeing or wild swimming, requires permission by the owners of each section. In places, there are agreements between several owners to allow access over longer sections and the Trust is keen to help negotiate and promote permissive access where possible and in-line with best environmental practice.

Below the tidal limit there is open navigation rights into the marine environment so other than permission to use the slipways and portage points, wider landowner permission is not needed.

We support The River Trust’s Together For Rivers campaign seeking to introduce bathing water standards for well-used rivers across the UK, so people can swim, paddle, catch and play without worrying about pollution.

Several of our community-involved projects have opportunities to monitor the health of our Westcountry rivers and/or take part in rivers cleans or litter picks. Our Westcountry Citizen Science Investigations team and volunteers do an amazing job of collecting river data to inform our work.

Rivers in the Westcountry are a part of our collective natural heritage; we want everyone to feel connected to and invested in them to ensure they are cared for, now and in future.