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Baroness Kate Parminter joins River Action

We are thrilled to welcome Baroness Kate Parminter , former chair of the House of Lords’ Environment and Climate Change Committee, to River Action’s Advisory Board! In our latest blog, we find out more about Kate’s life, professional experience, and what drives her to want to help rescue Britain’s rivers.

Tell us about yourself

I am a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.  I have had the privilege over the years to have had a number of platforms – the House of Lords, as a local councillor and a chief executive of an environmental organisation (CPRE) – to campaign for the environment.

What first sparked your interest in river protection? 

 Living near and walking alongside the River Wey in Surrey I know how important waterways are to health and well-being.  It was a particular joy last summer for me to paddle board along the river with my daughter.  But the Wey is struggling in terms of its river health with high levels of phosphates recorded.  It needs us to protect it.

What has driven you to Join the River Action Advisory Board?

Helping local communities protect and have a say in the future of their local environment has always been important to me. It’s one of the reasons I became a local councillor in my early ‘20s. RA has empowering communities as part of their mission, so it’s a good fit.  Also they are at the ‘edgier’ end of the campaigning line, so it’s good for someone at the more establishment end in the Lords to mix it up a bit!

You sit in the House of Lords on the Liberal Democrat benches and you were the Chair of the Lords Select Committee on the Environment and Climate Change from April 2021-January 2024.  What are the biggest changes that you have seen in UK politics over the issue of water quality and what do politicians need to prioritise to clean up our rivers?

Since lockdown there has been a massive increase in people’s awareness of and commitment to their local environment.  We’ve had groups like Surfers Against Sewage campaigning for for years, but now so many people in communities up and down the country want to protect their waterways and it’s had a knock on impact on media coverage and political interest. However, The political interest tends to focus on sewage in our waterways and the management of water companies.  That is welcome but it’s only one issue that needs political focus if we are to effectively protect our waterways and turn around the loss of biodiversity in the UK.

And finally, In your opinion, what needs to change to rescue Britain’s rivers?

We’ve had decades of treating rivers as dumps.  We need the Government to turn the tap  on all the levers they have to protect waterway from contamination and ensure families, businesses and farmers all take account of how they use water and reduce the dumping of chemicals and pollutants into waterways. We need a new Government to do that!