Burneside, Staveley and Kendal residents form Clean up the River Kent

RESIDENTS from several South Lakeland communities have united for a new campaign to ‘clean up’ the River Kent.

The coalition of towns and villages including Kendal, Staveley and Burneside, wants to ‘significantly reduce’ the amount of effluent discharged into the River Kent by wastewater treatment works and storm overflows- which it says happens on average almost once a day year-round.

The group wants to ensure that the wastewater treatment works on the River Kent are upgraded to meet current needs, the needs of new housing developments and to meet the additional pressures from climate change.

And, by applying to DEFRA for safe bathing water status for the River Kent, Clean up the River Kent hopes the river can be kept clean for water-based recreation and for the protection of the river’s ecology.

The DEFRA application requires the group to submit evidence about the locations where people access the river, how many people use the river on at least 20 days between mid-May and September, and to set out the results of consultations with residents, communities, and organisations.

It will also need to assess the level of human faecal bacteria in the river water to identify where safe bathing is possible currently and in the future.

“Our citizen science project will train and deploy local volunteers to collect the samples, and at the same time record details of the weather conditions and height of the river so we can interpret the findings,” said a spokeswoman.

“Much of the work will be undertaken at no cost by volunteers, including consultation and the completion of the detailed DEFRA application.”

The group is in contact with South Cumbria River’s Trust, the Freshwater Biological Association and is reaching out to the area’s councils.

“Staveley and Ings Parish Council are in full support of us,” said chairwoman Isobel Stoddart.

“We’ve contacted South Lakeland District Council who are also supportive, we’ve got a lot of support.

“And lots of people are now following our campaign on Facebook.”

The group has also received support from MP Tim Farron.

The campaign is applying for grant funds from a range of sources and campaigners are planning to hold stakeholder events at the end of March and aim to progress to a regular testing programme during the summer.

The Westmorland Gazette | News