The Independent reports every freshwater body in England currently fails chemical standards and only 16 per cent are classed as being “in good ecological health”, compared to 53 per cent on average across the EU, according to the Wildlife and Countryside Link, the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, made up of 61 organisations. The report warns that the climate crisis is worsening conditions for England’s “already beleaguered waters”.
The BBC reports scientists say light pollution may be contributing to “worrying” declines in insects seen in recent decades. In a UK study, artificial street lights were found to disrupt the behaviour of nocturnal moths, reducing caterpillars numbers by half.
Modern LED streetlights appeared to have the biggest impact. There is growing evidence that insect populations are shrinking due to the likes of climate change, habitat loss and pesticides. Factors are complex and varied, including the steady loss of forests, heathlands, meadows and marshes, overuse of pesticides, climate change and pollution of rivers and lakes.
The Metro reports London wildlife is facing a mortal threat from the vast plastic waste left in public parks and on the streets. Distressing images, released by charity Royal Parks, shows the endless ways that rubbish can endanger an animal’s life – from stags suffocating from plastic bags to hedgehogs trapped in deflated balloons.
The coronavirus lockdown has added an extra layer of misery for London’s wildlife, with discarded facemasks and leftover takeaway containers proving to be hazardous to animals.
The Guardian reports the scale of water companies illegally discharging sewage is 10 times greater than the Environment Agency (EA) estimates, MPs have been told.
Peter Hammond, former professor of computational biology at University College London, now retired, said his analysis of sewage treatment works found in 2020 alone 160 breaches of permits granted by the watchdog to allow sewage discharges. The EA has only prosecuted 174 cases of illegal discharges in the last 10 years, he said on Wednesday.
The Daily Telegraph and iNEWS report one metre of dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500-mile drive. Plant scientists at the Royal Horticultural Society have advised growers choose bushy, hairy-leafed alternatives, as these have been found to remove more air pollution.
Researchers tested three hedges for pollution removal in traffic hostpots; Cotoneaster franchetii, Thuya plicata (Western red cedar) and Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn). They found that the cotoneaster franchetti was by far the most effective at cleaning the air, and that in just seven days a one metre length of well-managed dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500 mile drive.
The Guardian reports water companies discharged raw sewage into bathing water beaches almost 3,000 times in the past year, polluting the environment and risking public health, new analysis shows. The study by Surfers Against Sewage, which publishes data on sewage releases as they occur, examines the notifications by water companies of effluent discharges over 12 months.
The Daly Telegraph, BBC News, The Guardian, and The Financial Times report all of England’s rivers have failed their pollution quality tests, meaning the country’s waterways are some of the dirtiest in Europe. The report from Defra found that no river in England is free from chemical pollution. New sampling methods from the Environment Agency found that in all surface water sampled, persistent chemicals were present and being consumed or absorbed by aquatic life.
River Wey photo by Malcolm Oakley under creative commons.
BBC News reports birds living on river banks are ingesting plastic at the rate of hundreds of tiny fragments a day, according to a new study. Scientists say this is the first clear evidence that plastic pollutants in rivers are finding their way into wildlife and moving up the food chain. Pieces of plastic 5mm or smaller (microplastics), including polyester, polypropylene and nylon, are known to pollute rivers. Researchers at Cardiff University looked at plastic pollutants found in a bird known as a dipper, which wades or dives into rivers in search of underwater insects.