Looking at the damage done to the river Lugg near Kingsland it has struck me that it is actually quite difficult for the public to keep an eye on how well landowners whose properties border local rivers and streams are preserving these precious ecosystems.

As someone who likes to seek out riverside walks, I have spent many hours looking at OS maps to see where paths and footbridges run alongside or cross rivers like the Onny, the Clun, the Teme, the Leigh, the Leddon, the Frome, the Monnow, to mention only a few.

For the most part, and in contrast to our big local rivers like the Wye and the Severn, it is difficult to find longer stretches of footpath that run alongside these beautiful but largely hidden smaller waterways.


What is obvious however is that standards of land management on the banks of our rivers can have a big impact, with care obviously being taken in many cases not to damage and pollute but in others obvious signs of lack of care with wastes bulldozed dangerously close to the water’s edge and land drainage which is probably not as environmentally sympathetic as it should be.

Where people know that their behaviours are likely to be open to public gaze they may be inclined to take more care.

And the more they know that what they are doing on land will be noticed, the more inclined they may be to stick within the rules.

I’d certainly encourage people who love the countryside and wildlife and who also love walking and cycling to seek out riverside walks or even follow the course of stream via the lanes by crossing and re-crossing a waterway via bridges, stopping to take photographs and so on for the record.

Some stretches of river are closely watched over, for example, by those who own the fishing rights but others are, for all intents and purposes, ‘out of sight and out of mind’.

These precious water courses belong to us all.

Perhaps people who care about them need to adopt a stretch and keep a close eye on it.

Perhaps this sort of Riverwatch approach (see thames21.org.uk/thames-river-watch) already exists in our part of the world.

Roger Bibbings MBE

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