Council passes first-ever Rights of River motion in England

Lewes District Council has passed a motion that marks the first step towards creating a Rights of River Ouse Charter with partner organisations to secure the river’s health and its right to be pollution-free.

Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, proposed the Rights of River motion at last night’s (February 20) Full Council and it was seconded by Councillor Sean Macleod.

Councillor Bird said: “I’m delighted that Lewes is the first council in England, I believe, to pass a motion of this kind that is about valuing the river in its own right and rethinks our relationship with it. Our waterways face constant harm from pollution, road runoff, development and climate change and the health and wellbeing of the River Ouse is severely under threat. 

“This motion is the first step towards a Rights of River Ouse Charter through which the health and wellbeing of the river is represented and voiced by local communities throughout the Ouse Valley catchment.”

The motion was supported by various organisations including the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Environmental Law Foundation. Rights of Rivers was introduced as a concept at the Love Our Ouse River Festival in September last year where people from across Lewes district proposed a draft charter for the River Ouse.

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