Guy’s news – The price of a swim in a clean river

The River Dart, which flows past Riverford, was so polluted in the ‘60s and ‘70s that, as the flow dropped in summer, the bottom became covered in several inches of brown slime; we seldom swam past June. The nearby sewage works was the main culprit but farmers and the local tannery were also to blame. Over 40 years of investment – prompted by legislation, grants and occasional prosecution – farms, industry and South West Water have cleaned up the river; an achievement we should collectively celebrate. Today the once fetid Dart is a delight all year for swimmers, fisherman, canoeists and anyone seeking tranquillity on its shaded banks.

25 years ago, pulled by a grant and pushed by tightening legislation, my brother built a huge concrete pit to store cow slurry through the winter until ground conditions allow it to be spread and fertilise the land without fear of pollution. This autumn he is building two sheds; one to store manure under cover to prevent leaching by winter rains, and another to house livestock during wet
winters to prevent damage to soil structure by heavy hooves, and stop faeces running off into water courses. Again there is some grant aid, but also financial benefits from making better use of the manures. Collectively, a desire to do the right thing, the threat of prosecution, and grants have combined to bring progressive improvement in our river and others around the country. I am not
convinced it would have happened without added pressure from EU directives on water quality. It is a knee-jerk response of most farmers to complain about red tape and interference. I would argue that, on our over-crowded island, it is the cost of living in a civilised society with a relatively clean environment.

Guy Watson

A change to our minimum spend
We’ve managed to avoid increasing the minimum spend for years, but delivery costs have risen and the sums are no longer adding up. If you have a veg box, meat box or recipe box in your order, this won’t affect you.
– For all non-meat items, the new minimum spend will be £15
– The meat minimum spend will remain £15
Delivery is still free for everyone!

12 responses to “Guy’s news – The price of a swim in a clean river

  1. Once again, thank you for your informative and inspirational blogs. I so agree with your comments today about the value of EU regulations, and just hope the government can be persuaded/bullied into keeping them – or better still have another referendum when the country would probably choose to remain.

  2. I so totally agree with you about the EU. Well said.

  3. Carolyn Westlake

    Regulation should not be a dirty word, so many of them protect us. Here’s hoping for a second referendum .

  4. It would be nice if Europe actually followed EU recommendations as faithfully as the British do. I don’t think you will find many canal side sewage collection points on French canals and rivers – it mostly goes into the water. Brussels is the headquarters of European legislation, yet when we visited there were steep steps up to buses and facilities for the disabled were minimal compared to ramps and slopes and wider doors in the UK. Our animal welfare laws are better than those on the continent. Just think of Foie Gras production and rabbit farming(rearing) in small wire cages. I think the UK is perfectly able and willing to pass and keep good and helpful laws.
    “Humid places like Bordeaux and Champagne rely heavily on chemical spraying with things like copper-based anti-mildew preparations. Such dependence has been called out by various critics over the years. Two years ago, for example, the French consumer organization UFC-Que Choisir tested 92 wines from around France and found pesticide traces in every bottle. The group singled out Bordeaux and Champagne, in particular, noting that wines from drier regions in the south, such as Provence and the Rhône Valley, tended to be less loaded with pesticides. It also said France’s wine industry accounts for just 3.7 per cent of the country’s agricultural land yet uses 20 per cent of the country’s pesticide volume. And France is a heavy user of agricultural pesticides over all, reportedly ranking behind only the United States and Japan globally. It bears noting that pesticide residues are not unique to wine grapes; chemicals are used throughout the agricultural sector wherever fruits, vegetables and grains are grown.” From “Which countries’ wines have the least amount of pesticides?” the Globe and mail.

  5. More common sense from Guy, but yet again the EU is the divisive issue. Irrespective of whether we are in or out of the UE, there is a need for effective regulation. Under the current anti-EU Conservative government we should be very concerned about those current levels of effective regulation being maintained. Why? Because the Government doesn’t believe in it, sees it purely as “red tape” and regards our impending exit from the EU as the opportunity to get rid of all those pesky regulations irrespective of their wider benefits to society as a whole. I do not believe the UK is willing (even if it is able) to implement its own regulations given the stance of the current Government. And yes, I did vote to stay in the EU.

  6. Good, informative article. But, is our island over-crowded, as stated in the last sentence?

  7. Please can we not get political but have balanced discussions. The current situation is what it is, just as the situation before June last year was what it was. This is not a political decision to leave the EU. It was a democratic one made by the British people.

  8. Patricia O'Connell

    I understand what you are saying, Jane, but this was a vote to leave taken by 51.9% of the people who voted against 48.1% who voted remain, on a 72.16% turnout. It is correct ,therefore , to say that a minority of the population voted to leave, not the British people en masse. There is evidence that there were lies on both sides of the argument. Any balanced discussion is therefore going to express contradictory views and information which should properly have been given an airing before the Referendum!

  9. Julia de Greff Ball

    Grateful for your comments Guy. We all need to speak out and up at this time.

  10. As a volunteer for a local butterfly reserve I was made aware of the Freshwater Habitats Trust and am doing a simple water quality test on 5 local water sources – ponds, streams etc. These water sources are not monitored by Government bodies as are rivers and reservoirs and are mostly heavily polluted by farm run-off and chemicals. These small water bodies are valuable wildlife habitats and badly need our help to survive, the tests are so simple and the results could help the future of water quality overall. Visit, in view of the loss of EU directives on the quality of our water we need to get our finger out!

  11. I agree with several of the other comments. Britain is capable of making sensible laws, we are overcrowded – now why might that be? and I do not wish to be lectured on politics. I will be buying elsewhere in future, buying British by the way.

  12. Thanks, Guy, for more sensible insights.

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