Our CEO Dr Laurence Couldrick considers the new political landscape for rivers following the election in July 2024.

As the political landscape across our region shifts following the General Election on 4 July, our focus remains firmly on ensuring policy makers and influencers keep the health of our rivers at the top of their agenda in the years ahead.

We will be seeking to discuss the issues facing the freshwater environments within the catchments we serve with newly appointed and re-elected MPs.

By doing so, we can help ensure the voice of farming and angling communities, citizen scientists, and ultimately our rivers, is heard.

Our national body The Rivers Trust’s Vote for Rivers campaign reviewed the main party manifestos in the run up to the Labour party win. Like them, we will now monitor how words become action from pledges such as Labour’s commitment to address sewage pollution.

But challenges to freshwater are more than sewage-related, with soil health, highway run-off, in-river weirs, climate change, future drought and water shortage further issues we need to consider to keep our rivers healthy, our water clean and our bills low.

Through the Vote for Rivers campaign The Rivers Trust outlined its asks from a new government. They included increasing funding and empowering Catchment Partnerships, driving strong enforcement so that polluters are made to pay, prioritising the use of catchment and nature-based solutions and citizen science, and working across sectors to support cost-effective, evidence-based and collaborative solutions for environmental and infrastructure challenges.

In our 30th year and having always taken a collaborative approach to bringing rivers to life in the Westcountry, we will continue to deliver work that has the river, its biodiversity, and the benefits it provides us, front and centre.