The Guardian reports that the nationwide Water Framework Directive (WFD) annual health check of England’s water bodies which used to take place annually, will now take six years to complete, prompting anger from campaigners and politicians, as public alarm grows over the state of the nation’s rivers and coasts.

It says that, in 2019, the last time the full assessments took place, just 14% of rivers were in good ecological health and none met standards for good chemical health. Before 2016 the tests were done annually, but the government has now opted not to deliver a complete update until 2025, the latest permissible under the WFD.

The Wildlife Trusts highlight the difficulty in identifying progress when summary statistics are not available.

Blog by Ali Morse, Water Policy Manager.

Three years ago, when data on the health of England’s waters was last published, headlines showed a sorry picture. With the latest data showing that little has changed, The Wildlife Trusts warn that action on farm pollution needs to be ramped up to restore our waters to health.

The Environment Agency typically publish data on the state of waters every three years, using assessments that consider both chemical pollution and ecological health. Data from 2019 showed that every single site failed chemical standards, and less than a fifth were in good ecological condition.

New data has now been published for over 4,000 river, canal, lake, estuary and coastal sites, and it shows that England’s waters are still struggling under a plethora of threats. At the time of writing, summary statistics were not available, so we looked at the underlying to data to see what it shows.

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