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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


01/08/2013 - Angling Trust Chalkstream Campaign Hits National Media


BBC Radio Four flagship programme Face the Facts broadcasts 'Sold Down the River' which focuses on the price our rivers are paying for cheap water and the Charter for Chalk Streams

Following the unprecedented winter drought in 2012 national wildlife and conservation organisations were brought together by the Angling Trust in an alliance with local river restoration groups to press the government and its agencies to reform water policies radically to enable England’s endangered chalk streams to return to good health. The Charter for Chalk Streams, which was launched in May, followed on from a special chalk stream summit held last December chaired by George Hollingbery MP and organised in Hampshire by the Angling Trust and the Salmon & Trout Association.

At the time the Charter for Chalk Streams only received any serious coverage in the specialist and angling media but that all changed this week when the BBC Radio Four flagship programme Face the Facts devoted a whole episode to the plight of England’s chalk rivers in a special  'Sold Down the River' episode which focuses on the price our are rivers paying for the government policy of cheap water and how the Charter for Chalk Streams makes the case for change in the way water resources are managed and valued.

The Face the Facts team contacted the Angling Trust shortly after the launch of the Charter for a background briefing on the problems facing our chalk rivers. The timing was considered particularly relevant for a national programme with the publication of the government's disappointing new Water Bill following hard on the heels of the Charter's call for radical action. Angling Trust Campaigns Chief Martin Salter is interviewed along with Environment Minister Richard Benyon, Rob Cunningham Head of Water Policy at the RSPB and representatives from local river restoration groups, The Environment Agency and the water companies.

The programme heard how water consumption per person has doubled in the UK since the 1960s and compared the condition of angling legend Dick Walker’s once favourite and now chronically over-abstracted River Beane in Hertfordshire with nearby fast flowing River Mimram that has recently had its flows restored. They demanded to know why governments have not taken seriously the need for both abstraction reform and effective measures to cut demand and improve storage.

Martin Salter said:“One of the great challenges for those of us involved in campaigning for angling and fisheries is to get our message out to the wider world beyond the confines of the fishing media. Whilst we are incredibly grateful for the support that the Angling Trust receives for its work in almost all the specialist publications and websites, it is vital that our message is heard by both the general public and by those who are in a position to influence policy if we are to be successful. The award winning BBC Radio 4 Face the Facts is a programme with a proven track record of making governments sit up and listen.”The programme concludes with the Minister acknowledging Martin Salter’s accusation that the stewardship of the 85% of the world’s chalk streams which are situated in England is ‘lamentable’.

Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd added:“The depth of expertise that the Angling Trust now has in its ranks is taking our campaigning and media work to new levels of professionalism not seen before in angling in the UK. Because the Angling Trust is taken seriously we now have excellent access to decision makers both in government and across the relevant agencies and national organisations. However, the challenge remains to get them to do more than acknowledge the need to give our rivers proper protection but actually to do something about it. That’s why the coming months will see us working hard to try and strengthen the current lily-livered Water Bill as it goes through Parliament.”

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Martin James Fishing
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