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Who We Are

Our Story So Far

Launched in 2021, River Action is on a mission to rescue Britain’s rivers by raising awareness of river pollution and applying pressure on industrial and agricultural producers, water companies, and other polluters. We want them to take greater responsibility for remedying the adverse environmental impact their supply chains are having on the health of our rivers.

Since its launch, River Action has now led a number of high-profile campaigns which have materially increased public

awareness of the pollution crisis facing our rivers, and the failure of Government funded environmental agencies to address this.

Our prime focus is to target food production companies whose supply chains are complicit in the increasing volume of river pollution caused by the run-off of nutrient-rich agricultural waste. However, wherever our precious rivers are being abused by polluters, River Action will be campaigning to raise awareness and seek remedies.

See Our Campaigns
River Action

Meet The Team

Charles

Chairman

Charles is the founder and Chair of River Action. He is a highly experienced business leader across the field of professional services and the communications sector. In recent years he has held a number of senior leadership roles across these industries including CEO of Financial Dynamics (2001-2012), Chairman of the Karma Communications Group (2012-2015) and Chairman of Teneo International (2015-2020).

In June 2020 he exited the commercial sector to focus primarily on environmental conservation, sustainable development and impact investment.  In addition to founding and chairing River Action, Charles is currently the Chairman of the Island Initiative, an NGO focussed on working with small island communities around a range of sustainable development issues. He is on the board of The Conduit Connect – a rapidly growing impact investment platform and is an active early-stage investor across a range of social impact and environmental technology enterprises.

James

CEO

James is Chief Executive of River Action. He is a naturalist, archaeologist and social entrepreneur and has established enterprises ranging from renewable energy, regenerative agriculture and green finance to ecotourism, nature restoration and deep sea exploration. Prior to helping Charles Watson develop River Action into a national charity, James was CEO and Co-founder of Beaver Trust where he led the coalition to protect and live alongside native beavers.

James campaigns to rescue Britain’s rivers using systemic, local solutions, working collaboratively in the freshwater emergency. He convenes national stakeholders, bringing together government, industry, NGO and community leaders to secure abundant, clean water and restore wildlife habitats, while holding polluters and regulators to account in the courts of public opinion and law.

You can contact James at: james@riveractionuk.com

Feargal

Vice Chairman

Feargal is most widely known as the lead vocalist of  The Undertones. In recent years he has performed various roles supporting the UK’s commercial music industry, winning several awards and honours for his work in that area.

Feargal is the Vice Chair of River Action.  He is a passionate environmental campaigner, focussing particularly on the state of rivers. A lifelong fly fisherman, he has actively campaigned against the pollution of British rivers (particularly chalk streams) and the regulations of the water industry which impact British water resources. Feargal has recently launched legal action against the government over the poor state of England’s rivers. He also gave the keynote address at the Rivers Trust Autumn Conference 2018.

Amy

Head of Campaigns

Amy is Head of Campaigns at River Action.  She was the former Head of Campaigns & Policy at Surfers Against Sewage and led campaigns, policy and project work on plastic pollution, ocean recovery, water quality, and ocean & climate. Amy spearheaded the #EndSewagePollution campaign, launched in 2020, calling out water companies and the government on their failures to address sewage pollution into rivers and the ocean, bringing together NGOs, politicians and the public to drive action on water quality.

She has been a key driver in pushing support for the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill and amendments in the Environment Bill to improve water quality legislation, and managed the only UK wide water quality information service, the Safer Seas & Rivers Service.

You can contact Amy at: Amy@riveractionuk.com

Erica

Head of Campaigns (Maternity Cover)

Erica is the Head of Campaigns (Maternity Cover) at River Action. She has previously worked for National Trust,  Defra, Which? and was the former Head of Government and Rural Affairs at Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) , developing campaigns, policy and political lobbying on affordable rural housing, farm scale and renewable energy. 

Erica led CPRE’s political influence on the 2015 Housing and Planning Bill, advocating for a thriving countryside for all.  She worked closely with Defra as it redesigned the way agriculture is supported as the UK exited the European Union. 

You can contact Erica at: erica@riveractionuk.com

Lauren

Head of Development

Lauren is the Head of Development at River Action. She is an international development professional with 12 years of experience leading change in urban and rural development, sustainable agriculture, partnerships and CSR. She holds an MSc in Urbanisation and Development from LSE and has worked in the UK, Egypt, Kenya, Somaliland and Cambodia. Lauren is a passionate environmentalist and founded her own sustainable fashion brand, Lauren Razek.  You can contact Lauren at: lauren@riveractionuk.com

Molly

Communications Coordinator

Molly is River Action’s Communications Coordinator, having previously worked as a Communications Officer at Galapagos Conservation Trust.

Before her role in communications, she worked in the wilderness expedition industry as a guide, leading tours and projects across Iceland and western Canada. She has an extensive knowledge of all places cold, a love of working in remote and challenging environments, and truly enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for the outdoors and her fascination with the natural world.

Originally from south Devon, Molly holds a degree in English from the University of Exeter.

You can contact Molly at: molly@riveractionuk.com

Chloe

Communities Coordinator

Chloe is the Communities Coordinator at River Action and a passionate advocate for the transformative power of individuals to shape their environment. With a background in community work in various charitable organisations, Chloe has fostered connections with diverse communities to mobilise them towards positive change to the world around them.

Chloe’s passion for connecting people with nature began during her time as a youth worker in Manchester. Here, she witnessed the positive impact that being in nature had on the young people she worked with.

Her career has included a significant role in the Resilient River Valleys project at Groundwork GM, where she linked communities to the River Irk, championed nature based solutions, and organised volunteers to combat flood risks. In her role, Chloe took a lead in the fight for climate justice, steering efforts towards a more sustainable and inclusive future.

You can contact Chloe at: chloe@riveractionuk.com

Ian

Senior Media Coordinator

Ian looks after media at River Action. He is a senior media manager with extensive experience working for Red Cross/Red Crescent, Oxfam, Save the Children and UN. During his 20-year career, he has raised the profile of humanitarian emergencies, climate justice as well as asylum seeker and refugee rights.

Recognised for his work in hazardous and dangerous environments in foreign countries, Ian was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (HOSM). The HOSM is awarded through the Australian honours system.

As a child brought up in urban poverty in the Black Country, Ian found nature was revolutionary in his life. Now, a keen walker living on the edge of the Lake District National Park, he understands the impacts of water pollution on both wild and urban spaces.

You can contact Ian at: ian@riveractionuk.com

Nick

Campaigns Analyst

Nick is the Campaigns Analyst at River Action. His background includes research and policy analysis within government, charities, and academia. Before River Action Nick worked as a Policy Officer at Wilton Park (an executive agency of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) before starting his PhD in Human Geography at the University of Exeter in 2020. His PhD focuses on how investing in natural assets can lead to potentially new local opportunities for prosperity across the rural-periphery in the UK, with a particular focus on Cornwall. He is a passionate about everything outdoors, especially protecting wild places and providing equal access to nature.

He has an MSc from LSE in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies and a BA in Sociology from the University of York.

You can contact Nick at: nick@riveractionuk.com

Meet The Advisory Board

Alison

Advisory

Alison has many years’ experience of research and consultancy in public, private and academic contexts, largely specialising in rural regeneration and tourism development.

Prior to studying at Cardiff University, Alison was a freelance research consultant for ten years. Previously she was Senior Consultant at ECOTEC Research and Consulting in Birmingham and lectured at the University of Birmingham on tourism development and rural planning. She started her career working in tourism research and development in Cumbria and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

She held an advisory role at the National Trust (Midlands) for eight years and has been a member of the Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership for 15 years.

Francesca

Advisory

Francesca is a food policy and campaigns specialist. She is a Senior Associate in the European Climate Foundation’s Food, Nature & Climate Strategic Communications team where her work focuses on industrial animal agriculture.

Before joining the ECF she was a Campaign Manager at Oxfam GB leading campaigns on labour rights in supermarket supply chains and climate justice. Prior to this she worked at the Climate Parliament, an international network of parliamentarians, and was Co-Director of the UK Youth Climate Coalition. She holds an MSc in Food Policy.

Ruth

Advisory

Ruth leads the Greener UK coalition’s work on the Environment Bill and the setting up of the Office for Environmental Protection. Before joining Greener UK, Ruth worked with a wide range of not-for-profit and public sector organisations, helping them to engage with and influence government and parliament. Prior to that, she was deputy chief executive of the Campaign for National Parks.

In addition to her Greener UK role, she is a board member of Hexagon Housing Association and the lay member on COMEAP, the expert committee that advises the government on the effects of air pollutants on health.

Ruth

Advisory

Ruth is a writer, campaigner, political analyst and conservationist with over twenty years’ experience in the environment sector. Ruth has experience working across the NGO sector including at Greenpeace, RSPB and Plantlife. Most recently she has been acting as an Advisor to the UK Cabinet Office on the COP26 nature campaign. Ruth writes extensively about the philosophy, politics and practice of environmentalism, and was awarded an MBE for services to the environment in 2014.

Marina

Trustee & Advisory

Marina Gibson is a truly passionate angler who was lucky enough to spend much of her childhood chasing salmon, trout and sea trout. Marina is an ambassador for Orvis Fly Fishing, Angling Trust, Atlantic Salmon Trust and Fishing For Schools. In June 2019 Marina launched The Northern Fishing School at Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire, where her and her team teach all ages and abilities the art and technique of fly fishing and connect as many people as possible to the great outdoors. Marina is a certified ‘Fly Fishers International Instructor, 1st 4sport Level 2 coach and freelance writer.

Marina is an ardent supporter of the ‘Anglers Against Pollution’ and ‘River Action UK’ campaigns and hopes that we can collectively make a difference by scrutinising organisations, raising awareness and exerting force, so that we will have clean river systems for future generations, efficient wastewater treatments and thriving wildlife.

Jeremy

Advisory

Having grown up on the Suffolk Stour, Jeremy has become known for spending his time beside, on and in rivers: from the Amazon to the Zambezi – via the Danube, Congo, Ganges, Mississippi, Yangtze, and many others.

Along with this international perspective he brings a lifelong interest in fish and other underwater life, as documented in nine seasons of the TV show River Monsters (Discovery/Animal Planet/ITV). In its epilogue Mighty Rivers he looked at the role of apex predators as indicator species of river health – and at the ways, all over the world, people are starting to help rivers recover from neglect and maltreatment.

James

Trustee & Advisory

James Macpherson is the former Deputy Chief Investment Officer of BlackRock’s Active Equity business managing assets of $280bn worldwide and was for many years a senior fund manager and head of their market leading UK Equity Team. He was the senior investor on BlackRock’s Global Environmental Social and Governance ‘’ESG’’ Policy Group and was Chairman of the ESG Policy Group in Europe. His experience of holding companies to account for their actions in the application of ESG standards will be invaluable to River Action’s work.

Isabella

Advisory

Isabella is founder and Managing Director of Seahorse Environmental, a specialist environmental PR, lobbying and corporate reputational consultancy. She has a corporate background at two of Europe’s leading communications consultancies, Burson-Marsteller and Maitland, where she headed up their environmental practice.

Isabella was Policy Adviser to Zac Goldsmith MP where she helped shape his polices; led the development of policy proposals to Government and managed his international environmental campaigns.

Isabella is Chair of UK100 and the co-founder of the All Party Group on Sustainable Finance. She also sits on the Steering Committee of the Conservative Environment Network and the International Grand Jury for Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge. In 2019, she was listed in PR Week’s 30 under 30. She graduated from the University of Southampton with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science and completed Oxford University’s Sustainable Finance course.

George

Advisory

George is an award-winning writer and journalist well-known for his focus on environmental and political issues.

He writes a weekly column for The Guardian and has published a number of books including Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life. George is passionate about the state of our nations rivers and has crowdfunded to carry out a live investigative documentary into river pollution later this year.

He also narrated the viral video, How Wolves Change Rivers, based on his Ted Talk which discussed the restoration of ecosystems and landscape. George is also the founder of The Land is Ours, a campaign for the right of access to the countryside and its resources in the United Kingdom.

John

Advisory

Lord John Randall served as a Conservative MP from 1997-2015 and was Government Deputy Chief Whip from 2010 to 2013. In 2017 he was appointed as Theresa May’s special adviser on the environment during her premiership. Lord Randall was created a life peer in 2018.

During his political career, Lord Randall has always been a passionate advocate for environmental issues. He is a member of the RSPB Council as well as a Trustee of other organisations including the Human Trafficking Foundation and the Bat Conservation Trust. During his time as MP, John also sat on the Environment, Transport and Rural Affairs Select Committee and strongly opposes the Heathrow Airport expansion as well as HS2.

Helen

Advisory

Helen has been Chief Executive of the Soil Association since 2011. She is a Commissioner for the Food Farming and Countryside Commission and sits on the BBC’s Rural Affairs Advisory Committee.

Helen has had a number of roles in agri-politics over the years, including the Government’s Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food (‘the Curry Commission’).

Helen farms in partnership with her daughter and son in law on an organic farm in Wiltshire with dairy, beef, pigs, cereals, agroforestry and small scale veg/salads. They are experimenting with strip till/pasture cropping with Wildfarmed. Her products are sold through the Helen Browning’s Organic
brand in retailers as well as through her mini hotel and restaurant/pub on the farm.

Alastair

Advisory

Prof Alastair Driver is one of the UK’s best known conservationists and is cited in “Who’s Who” for influence and distinction in the field of environmental conservation.

In 2022 and 2023 he was included in the ENDS Power List of the top 100 UK
environmental professionals who have made the greatest impact in the UK over the previous two years. Alastair was also the recipient of the world’s largest environmental award – the International Riverprize – on behalf of the Thames, in
2010.

He is one of the country’s leading proponents of re-wilding and is an expert naturalist and ecologist with 45 years’ professional experience and many hundreds of river and wetland conservation projects under his belt.
He became the first Conservation Officer for the Thames catchment in 1984 and went on to become the National Head of Conservation for the Environment Agency for England and Wales from 2002 – 2016.

Since 2016, he has been the Director of Rewilding Britain and plays a key role in
influencing government environmental policy at the highest level and establishing re-wilding projects in England and Wales.

Alastair also holds several pro bono roles, including Hon Prof at Univ of Exeter,
Specialist Advisor for the National Trust and Ambassador for the International
River Foundation.

Kate

Advisory

Kate Parminter was created a life peer in July 2010. She sits in the House of Lords on the Liberal Democrat benches and was the Chair of the Lords Select Committee on the Environment & Climate Change from April 2021-January 2024.

She is a member of the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Kate was born in 1964 and grew up in West Sussex. Educated at state schools in Horsham she went on to study Theology at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Subsequently she worked for Nestle, Simon Hughes MP and a PR Consultancy. From 1990-1998 she headed the Public Affairs for the RSPCA, during which time she chaired the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals which helped to ban hunting. In 1998 she became Chief Executive of CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

From 2004-2010 she was a freelance consultant advising corporations and charities on charity, CSR and campaigning issues. Clients included Lloyd’s, the City of London Corporation & Mencap. She was a Liberal Democrat Councillor on Horsham District Council in West Sussex for eight years (1987-1995).

Kate campaigns on eating disorders and is is a Patron of the Meath Epilepsy Charity.

Jenny

Advisory

Jenny was born in Brighton, the daughter of a hospital cook and a dinner lady. She worked from a young age, starting with mucking out horse stables to get a free horse ride. She married at 20 and had 2 daughters before settling in London in 1991. Over the years she worked as a crafts teacher,  a secretary, a book keeper, a shop assistant and an office manager. At age 45 she earnt a BSc (Hons) in Archaeology and spent nearly 10 years working as an archaeologist. She has no pets, no car and grows her own vegetables in summer

Jenny has held several prominent political roles: Deputy Mayor of London, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, Green Councillor for Southwark Council and Chair of the Green Party of England and Wales. She served on the London Assembly from 2000-16 where she worked on housing, policing and civil liberties, cycling and walking, road safety and the legacy of the 2012 Olympics/ Paralympics. In the 2000 to 2008 London administration, under Ken Livingstone, she was the Mayor’s Green Transport Advisor, advising him on sustainable forms of transport and Chair of the London Food Board. In 2004 she was named as one of 200 ‘women of achievement’ by Buckingham Palace

When the Green party was offered its first seat in the House of Lords in the summer of 2013 Jenny Jones was at the top of the party’s selection list, the result of a vote by all party members.  Jenny was introduced to the House of Lords on November 5th 2013, she took her title, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, from the council estate she grew up on in Brighton.

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