Responding to the King’s Speech, CEO of River Action James Wallace said, “After numerous briefings that the Government were planning to press ahead with ditching river protections, we welcome the absence of a return to the ridiculous idea that we can’t have home building and healthy rivers.
“However, what we have seen today is further evidence that this Government is hardly a trailblazer for nature and the environment. Backing the expansion of North Sea oil and gas exploration is an embarrassing backward step for our nation in the middle of a climate and nature emergency.
“Yet how hypocritical that the Government says it will continue to lead action on tackling climate change and biodiversity loss by support developing countries with their energy of transition; and holding other countries to their environmental commitments. What about here at home?
“Where’s the detail on the Environment Land Management Scheme which post Brexit promised to help farmers look after the land and rivers? Where are the commitments to make water companies stop illegal discharges of sewage, and fix their leaking pipes?
“Meanwhile, the environmental regulators, the Environment Agency and Ofwat are toothless and starved of funds, unable to carry out wide-scale inspections or to prosecute polluters.
“The Government is today signalling that it would rather back polluting industries than look after our environment. Healthy rivers and secure supplies of drinking water and food are not optional. They are the foundation of our economy and society.”