Anglers' alarm over River Nidd pollution ends with Harrogate MP taking case for action to the Government
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What started when a group of keen anglers noticed a deterioration in the water clarity on the River Nidd has ended up in a community campaign to get action on the pollution in this important river running through the Harrogate district.
Andrew Jones MP has played a key role in Nidd Action Group’s campaign to win Bathing Water Status for the River Nidd at the Lido Leisure Park where people used to swim happily.
In bringing the bid together, the MP worked closely with the group of volunteers from all walks of life who have been doing water testing, even though this was not required as part of the bathing water application.
The campaign has won backing from key local organisations including Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Bilton Conservation Group, Knaresborough Town Council and North Yorkshire Council, as well as support from businesses along the Nidd including the Lido Leisure Park, the Watermill Café and the iconic Blenkhorns Boats on the Waterside in Knaresborough.
After personally delivering the application to Rebecca Pow, Minister for Rivers, Mr Jones said: “The bathing status bid has won an impressive array of local support which we haven’t really seen in previous bids around the country.
"From riverside businesses to farmers, from councils to water users, from environmental groups to nearby residents the campaign has seen an unprecedented level of backing.
"All those people and organisations speaking with one voice is an incredibly powerful endorsement of the bid and I made that point to the minister.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will now consider the bid in what is believed to be the first bathing water application led by an MP.
Winning Bathing Water Status would unlock the potential for the Environment Agency to put in place a five-year plan to improve water quality in the river.
It would amount to a significant point in a story which began when members of Harrogate Flyfishing Club - based at Darley - raised the alarm over pollution in the Nidd.
Soon a cross-section of the community had come together to tackle the problem – from Tories to Lib Dems to Greens to wild swimmers.
Nidd Action Group was formed and volunteers began to monitor the river at various points along its winding course in the Dales.
Their case was backed by Professor Peter Hammond, a retired expert in computational biology, whose studies showed the equivalent of 317 Olympic pools of raw sewage had been discharged in 2020 alone at four sewage treatment works along the Nidd - Pateley Bridge, Harrogate, Darley and Kirk Hammerton.
In response, Yorkshire Water has announced a £180million investment in storm overflow improvements in the next two years.
In total, 33 organisations, including local parish councils, wrote testimonials for the Bathing Water Status bid, including Yorkshire Water who would be instrumental in implementing changes.
All the letters of support were included with the application.
Mr Jones said: "I want to thank everyone who has helped, including director Frank Maguire and his team at Lido Leisure Park.
"Without that support this bid would not have got off the ground.”
The result of the bid is expected to be announced in April 2024.