March 14, 2023 4:58 PM
Originally published by Tim Farron

Today, South Lakes MP Tim Farron has slammed the decision by the Secretary of State for the Environment (DEFRA), Thérèse Coffey, to deny 'bathing water status' to Coniston Water and the River Kent at Staveley.

The decision follows a tireless campaign by activists in both locations for the status, given the number of tourists and residents that bathe in the areas. In a reply to the applications from DEFRA they justified the decision by saying both the applications 'did not meet the criteria'. However, in neither the reply or the initial application process the Department has not laid out what the criteria are.

As a result, Tim has today written to the DEFRA Secretary to demand answers on what the criteria actually are and how many applications have been successful within the last 12 months. It follows the rejection of 'bathing water status' applications across the country, including applications from Therese Coffey's own constituency in Suffolk.

In his letter Tim writes: "The only reason I and others can see this decision as being justified is that you are under the impression that not enough people bathe in these waters for the status to be necessary, which is simply not the case.

"The Lake District is the second most popular tourist destination within the UK. We see almost 16 million visitors every year. The majority of those visitors come to bear witness to the natural beauty we are lucky enough to live next to, which a lot of them do by swimming.

"May I also take this moment to make the point that if there has been a reduction in the number of swimmers at either Coniston Water or the River Kent at Staveley in recent times it may be due to the decisions of your Government to allow water companies to dump raw sewage in our lakes and rivers."

Tim ended his letter by emphasising the importance of the statuses for protecting the environment: "Please see these applications for what they are, opportunities to protect our environment - which should be a source of national pride - and guarantee places of natural beauty for our children."