Stephen Fry backs call for investigation into river 'pollution' in West Norfolk

ER petition

Activists deliver their petition to the Environment Agency's King's Lynn depot - where they say no-one was available to receive it - Credit: Extinction Rebellion

Stephen Fry is among more than 1,000 people who have signed a petition protesting over state of a Norfolk chalk stream.

It calls on the Environment Agency (EA) to investigate what has happened to the Gaywood River in west Norfolk and take action to restore it.  

EAA says it has launched an investigation.

Climate pressure group Extinction Rebellion said: "The river used to be crystal clear water and teeming with life, you could even watch brown trout swimming in the stream at The Walks.

"Now the river is murky, lifeless, and filled with fungus, which suggests it’s being polluted somewhere along its length. Water quality testing has shown that phosphate levels in the river are four times higher in Bawsey than the river’s source at Well Hall Lane near Gayton.

"The EA has previously stated [here] that the current state of the river is due to heavy rain and iron content in the soil.

"This does not explain the increased phosphate levels downstream compared to upstream, nor the presence of sewage fungus. This is why we need the Environment Agency to fully investigate and then take action."

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry - Credit: Simon Finlay

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An EA spokesman said: "The future of rare and valuable chalk streams, under pressure from climate change and population growth, depend on action from all of us, including business, farmers and government.

”To investigate pollution along the River Gaywood we are using new technology and increased monitoring to help identify sources of pollution. In East Anglia we have also invested in additional skilled agriculture officers to carry out farming visits and we hope this will benefit the River Gaywood in reducing the impact of diffuse pollution of our watercourses at a catchment scale.

“We cannot protect chalk streams on our own. We all have our part to play - government policy, regulation and enforcement, planning decisions, actions by water companies, farmers and landowners, as well as the behaviour of individuals in the way they use water. ”