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River Wear: Pollution Control

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 6906, tabled on 23 May 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has had recent discussions with Durham County Council on funding to reduce pollution in the river Wear.

Answered on

30 May 2022

The Government funds a wide range of schemes designed to tackle the pressures on the water environment. For example, we have nearly doubled the annual budget for Catchment Sensitive Farming to £30 million to provide free one to one advice to farmers to help them reduce pollution. We have also recently launched a new ‘Woodlands for Water’ project designed to facilitate the creation of riparian wildlife woodland corridors which can provide a variety of benefits for aquatic habitats.

Pollution from abandoned mines is the key problem on the River Wear which benefits from the government funded Water and Abandoned Metal Mines programme, with an expected £19 million capital budget over the next three years. Government investment has improved 100 km of rivers polluted by abandoned metal mines since 2011, and we have proposed a new statutory target to further drive this work under the Environment Act, which we are consulting on now.

The Environment Agency is working with partner organisations on various projects funded by Defra’s Water Environment Improvement Fund. This includes the Return to Eden project to educate local businesses about the effects of industrial drainage and transport of pollutants, and the Wear Estuary project aimed to improve 3 km of habitat conditions along the estuary edge, which will provide subsequent benefits to overall water quality.

In addition to government funding, between 2020 and 2025, water companies will invest £7.1 billion in environmental improvements in England.

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