Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones questioned on when it will be safe to swim in River Nidd

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Andrew Jones has been asked when the River Nidd will be safe to swim in following a campaign to designate the river bathing water status.

The Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough submitted an application to government for the status in October.

If successful, the Nidd would join just three other waterways in the country that have achieved it.

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Bathing water status means that each year during the peak bathing season between May and September, government body the Environment Agency will test the Lido Leisure Park section of the river for pollutants, including the bacteria E-coli which can be a signifier of human waste.

Andrew Jones MP has been questioned on when it will be safe to swim in the River NiddAndrew Jones MP has been questioned on when it will be safe to swim in the River Nidd
Andrew Jones MP has been questioned on when it will be safe to swim in the River Nidd

Sampling of the river undertaken by the Nidd Action Group previously found e-coli at “concerningly high” levels.

Pollution in the Nidd has been a long-running issue and in 2022 a group of children fell ill after swimming near Conyngham Hall.

Yorkshire Water releases sewage into the Nidd during storm overflows but there are also other pollution problems to overcome such as peat bog erosion and historic metal mining which wash into the river at Nidderdale and travel down stream.

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Mr Jones attended a meeting of local councillors in Harrogate last week when Councillor Hannah Gostlow, who represents Knaresborough West for the Lib Dems, asked him when it will be safe to swim in the Nidd.

In response, the MP said Councillor Gostlow’s question was “slightly loaded and wrong” but that work to clean up the Nidd has united councils up and down the river.

He added the government will respond to the application for bathing water status in late spring or early summer.

Mr Jones said: “It isn’t reasonable to say it’s not safe to swim in the River Nidd because the whole point of the bathing water status is it’s measuring people actually already swimming there.

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"People like swimming in the Nidd and this is about helping them do that.”

Yorkshire Water is allowed to release sewage into the Nidd when the sewerage system is at risk of being overwhelmed through what are called storm overflows.

Conservative councillor for Borougbridge and Claro, Robert Windass, referred to a presentation given by an Environment Agency officer at a previous meeting which he said was “damning” about the company.

Mr Jones said there is now 100 per cent monitoring of storm overflows which has “changed the national debate”.

He added: “We can now quantify scale of problem and direct where investment is going to make the quickest and biggest difference.”

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