Action call to help Suffolk's polluted rivers

Maya Bennett, Ellie Mills and Rayni Bennett take part in the Woodbridge protest

Maya Bennett, Ellie Mills and Rayni Bennett take part in the Woodbridge Rivers Have Rights protest - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

No rivers in Suffolk currently meet national pollution standards, according to a new report

Community leaders are calling for more action to be taken - and county councillors are to discuss the issue and whether to urge the Government to do more.

The latest concern follows a march through Woodbridge last month organised by the Rivers Have Rights campaign to highlight the state of the River Deben and rising levels of potentially harmful e.coli bacteria found in the river’s tributaries and the effects of overflowing sewage from nearby drains. 

The protest march through Woodbridge in April 2022 calling for action to tackle pollution in the Deben.

The protest march through Woodbridge in April 2022 calling for more action to tackle the pollution in the River Deben. Picture: BERRYPHOTOGRAPHICS - Credit: BERRYPHOTOGRAPHICS

A report by Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust submitted to next week’s flood risk management committee says Suffolk currently has no rivers meeting the target for all watercourses nationally to achieve a ‘Good’ or ‘Good Potential’ status by 2027.

Opposition councillors from the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group have submitted a motion to next week’s full Suffolk County Council meeting seeking action on the county's polluted rivers.

Liberal Democrat councillor Penny Otton, who put forward the motion, said: “Suffolk rivers are in a terrible condition and pose a serious danger to health. This cannot be allowed to carry on.

The River Orwell in Ipswich. Picture: JASON NOBLE LDRS

The River Orwell in Ipswich - Credit: JASON NOBLE LDRS

“By bringing this motion to Suffolk County Council our group intends to highlight some of the worst rivers in Suffolk.

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“We want to help organisations, such as the River Trust, River Action, and the local catchment partnerships, to make our rivers safe for swimmers, fishing and other water activities.

“We need to work with farmers to reduce pollution into rivers damaging our ecology, and Suffolk Highways need to stop run off from roads into the foul water system. I hope we will get overwhelming support.”

The group has called on the council to allocate more resources to Suffolk Catchment Partnerships, develop drainage and sewerage management plans, and set up a project to tackle pollution run-off from roads.

It also asks for the chief executive to write to DEFRA and Anglian Water calling for more commitment to tackle river pollution by increasing inspections of water companies and farms, and funding highways authorities to prevent surface water run-off from roads into watercourses.

Conservative councillor Richard Rout, cabinet member for the environment and public protection, said: “We welcome motions bought to full council meetings and look forward to hearing the debate on 19 May.”