Rules to protect rivers ended on 1st January, 2024. Until now, there have been protections in place to reduce agricultural runoff into rivers.

Farmers had to create buffer strips to separate agricultural land from rivers to reduce the risk of nutrient-rich soil, along with fertilisers and pesticides being washed into our rivers.

Other rules to prevent soil erosion also come to an end, incuding the obligation for farmers to plant grass or crops during the winter months to reduce the chance of soil being blown into rivers.

According to River Action UK, agriculture is one of the largest sources of pollution for Britain’s rivers with animal slurry, pesticides and more than three million tonnes of irreplaceable topsoil washed into our rivers each year.

10% of our river species face extinction, including the Atlantic salmon and European eel, and 60% are in decline.

Mayor Dan Norris said: “There has been a very long time to prepare for this, and there was a real opportunity for government to tighten up on river pollution here - but they’ve flunked it. This represents another weakening of environmental standards.”