Research: The Rivers Trust – Blueprint For Water

Whilst developing research, I came across some new water organisations that offered some insight into water conservation and potential attributes to consider when highlighting subjects of interest within my photo story.

One in particular stood out for concentrated approach and ambition in discussing the importance of water to humanity and all other life forms and the threat of a water crisis through the pollution and abstraction of water in the UK, The Rivers Trust.

The “Association of River Trusts” for England and Wales was launched in 2001 following extensive consultation with existing charitable rivers trusts and other related interests.

The organisation changed it’s name to “The Rivers Trust” on 2nd August 2011

The need for such a body was a logical extension of the increasing level of liaison that had taken place for some time between established rivers trusts. As a result of the demands placed upon, ART was subsequently incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and granted registered charity status by the Charities Commission in 2004.

Rivers trusts now represent catchments across a large part of England and Wales and new ones are continually forming. In addition, a similar movement exists in Scotland, and there is excellent co-operation with the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS).

RT Principles, Aims and Objectives
The principles of RT are based on:

  • Consent
  • Subsidiarity – where RT will serve its members
  • Partnership
  • Education and technology transfer

The main aims of RT are, “to co-ordinate, represent and develop the aims and interests of the member Trusts in the promotion of sustainable, holistic and integrated catchment management and sound environmental practices, recognising the wider economic benefits for local communities and the value of education.”

Its objectives are to:

  • Represent and promote the Rivers Trust movement nationally and internationally
  • Develop best practice protocols, within a framework of sound science, partnership, avoiding duplication, consistency and a matrix approach
  • Encourage innovation and the advancement of applied science
  • Facilitate funding and working partnerships between Rivers Trusts and other organisations
  • Guide and assist rivers trusts in making funding applications, either individually or in partnership with others
  • Build capacity and sustainability in the rivers trust movement
  • Form national and international networks to provide collaborative project and development opportunities for rivers trusts
  • Guide and support new rivers trust start-ups
  • Act as a conduit for communication, information exchange and technology transfer through projects, seminars, the web-site and e-newsletters
  • Promote, guide and support good governance and issues of common interest to rivers trusts

The Rivers Trust also refers to the governments recent Water Framework Directive, which aims to restore the ecology of UK waters by 2015.

Blueprint for Water
Water is our most precious natural resource. It is vital to people’s health and happiness, vital for the environment and our wildlife, and vital to our economy.

Our water environment is in crisis. Providing enough clean, safe water is becoming ever more difficult and expensive, and climate change is increasing the challenge. Our rivers and lakes are under pressure from pollution and abstraction, while most of our wetlands have been lost to drainage.

It need not be this way. The Blueprint for Water offers an alternative. An alternative where we are less wasteful of our water; where we keep our rivers flowing, clean and healthy and our wetlands wet. Where the water we use is priced fairly and those who pollute it are made to pay; where our waste is properly treated and not washed straight into waterways.

The Government has made a commitment to meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive, which says the ecology of our waters must be restored to health by 2015. This Blueprint sets out the steps needed to meet this target.

ART has been involved with Anglers Conservation Association, National Trust, RSPB, Salmon & Trout Association, Waterwise, Wildlife Trusts, WWF, and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in the preparation and, on 28 November 2006, the launch nationally of a manifesto for water under the title “Blueprint for Water” – 10 steps to sustainable water by 2015.

I also found reference to this upon the site of another relevant organisation, Wildlife and Countryside Link.

“Bringing voluntary organisations in the UK together to protect and enhance wildlife and landscape and to further the quiet enjoyment and appreciation of the countryside.”

Wildlife and Countryside Link began life as Wildlife Link in 1980. It was set up by Lord Peter Melchett, whose position in the House of Lords convinced him that better co-ordination was needed between voluntary organisations with similar core objectives.

Wildlife Link merged with Countryside Link in 1990, creating the organisation that we have today whose interests span the breadth of wildlife and countryside issues.

In July 2010, Link celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a parliamentary reception at the House of Lords, hosted by Link’s Vice President, Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer.

At this reception, Link re-launched a brand new version of our review document, Making the Link, with input from right across the Link membership and from our partners and funders including the Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon MP.

The publication follows how member organisations, their representatives and Link staff have helped run and develop Link, not as an organisation in its own right, but as a collective, and reflects some of its many achievements over three decades.


There is also a great of useful information featured within their latest report of this blueprint such as the discussion of ecology & hydrology, recent water and other recent policies & reforms as well a variety of associated organisations acting in the interest of water conservation and better management.

In November 2010, we, a coalition of leading
environmental organisations, launched the 2010
Blueprint for Water, setting out the ten steps to
sustainable water by 2015. The Blueprint called on
all stakeholders to act urgently in order to give our
water a future. Progress since 2010 has been mixed,
but 2013 offers a unique opportunity – and test – for
us to deliver on this agenda. This report assesses
how Government and other key delivery bodies have
fared against the targets we set in late 2010.

2012 was a year of extremes in water availability, with both
drought and floods occurring within a short timeframe and
almost simultaneously in some locations. Many of our
aquatic habitats and species were hit hard, with some rivers
dry to the bone, whilst elsewhere rare wader chicks
drowned in their nests. The public were quite rightly
confused; water wasn’t behaving as it ought. One minute
we were told we were in drought, the next overwhelmed by
rain. The Blueprint for Water coalition threw its weight
behind helping to understand and explain the complex
situation and apply the solutions we had already developed.
Perhaps this year wasn’t so unusual after all; simply a
demonstration of volatility to come. Whilst our infrastructure
did just about cope with drought, a third dry winter should
certainly drive the Government to consider faster or more
dramatic changes in policy than those currently on the
cards. Will we grasp the nettle and learn from this volatility?
We argue that, had the steps and targets highlighted within
the 2010 Blueprint for Water been fully implemented, we
would now be benefitting from secure ecosystems services,
a far more resilient water sector, and a landscape in which
our precious wildlife can safely ride out the drought and the
floods, even if they come in quick succession.
The Water White Paper of December 2011 had the potential to deliver
against many of our aspirations. We welcome much of what it
contained and are actively participating in many of its initiatives,
but – in part because many of the White Paper’s recommendations are
far from being implemented – still find our aspirations are at best
patchily addressed. In producing this scorecard we often struggled to
find evidence that matched the Government’s ambition with reality on
the ground. As a result, the scores we have awarded have fewer ‘E’
grades than our 2008 scorecard, but equally fewer ‘B’s. We urge the
Government to prioritise grassroots resilience through championing
individual behaviour change, and to set an ambitious legislative and
policy framework which propels us all in the right direction whilst we
still have time on our side.
Such action is the only way to ensure resilience and adaptation,
not only for the environment, but for the economy and our society

Water Bill
We welcome the commitment in the Water White Paper, Water for Life,
to address: unsustainable abstraction; diffuse pollution via catchment
management; and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). However, we
remain very concerned by the long timescales for delivery and lack of
ambition around actions to protect the wildlife and wetlands that are
suffering now. We are also concerned with the absence of a vision for
how these policy areas can benefit biodiversity ambitions as laid out in
Biodiversity 2020.
We urge the Government to revise the 2013 Water Bill so that it lays
the foundations for abstraction reform, and drive water efficiency and
metering, without which sustainable and affordable water is not
2014 Periodic Review of Water Pricing (PR14)
We have high hopes for the next round of Water Resources
Management and Business Plans. A number of the barriers
encountered in the 2009 periodic review have been swept away, and
many of the water companies are developing and delivering exciting
06projects which are raising expectations about what is possible.
PR14 provides a chance to address some significant and uncertain
challenges: climate change; changing water use; and population
growth. The scale of work in these areas needs to be significantly
scaled up. In helping to tackle these issues, the Blueprint coalition will
work with Ofwat, water companies and Government to help deliver
measures set out in the Blueprint for PR14. This comprehensive
document, produced by the Blueprint coalition, is designed to help
deliver sustainable water management, covering water use, water
quality and abstraction.
Water Framework Directive (WFD)
The WFD was supposed to signal the most radical reform of water
management in Europe, putting wildlife at the heart of a process that
secured the future health of this precious resource. Unfortunately, little
has changed on the ground, a fact reflected in the low level of ambition
in the current cycle of River Basin Management Planning (RBMP). We
hope to see more action and delivery in the next cycle, and we are
confident that we will if the right steps are taken.
In 2012, the Government announced its commitment to the delivery of
the WFD through a Catchment Approach and the launch of 10 local
plan pilots to bring together stakeholders from across catchments.
The Blueprint coalition strongly supports this approach as a way of
generating more action in the next round of RBMP. But to do this we
will need:
g greater community engagement through the local catchment plans
that drive RBMP;
g clear timetables whereby all water bodies can reach Good
Ecological Status/ Good Ecological Potential (regardless of barriers),
so costs and feasibility can be thoroughly tested;
g a more vigorous approach to tackling violations of baseline
legislation from all sectors;
g progress on reducing levels of pollutants and delivering the
“polluter pays” principle, particularly when voluntary action
is not enough;
g Cycle two RBMPs that really deal with water issues from
source to sea, including a strong link to the Marine Strategy
Framework Directive.
Effective implementation of the WFD should also inform new legislation,
for example through applying lessons learnt to the implementation of
the Marine Framework Strategy Directive.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform
The major challenge remains to align agricultural subsidies with the
provision of environmental and public benefits, so farmers are
incentivised to, for example, prevent pollution, improve soils and restore
biodiversity. It is important that subsidies are at the very least
maintained at their current level, in order to provide the essential
ecosystem services they provide.
During 2013, the Blueprint coalition will again be describing the
ambition we think Government and others should be working towards,
to deliver a sustainable future for water and people.
Please get in touch to find out how we can work together.
The Blueprint secretariat can be contacted through Kate Hand,
on 020 7820 8600, or at



Some of these organisations were familiar, but others offered scope for further research and reference.

I will reflect upon these site in the nearby future as means of determining any significant examples. I will hopefully shape the direction of my narrative.


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