Gaywood River demo at the Walks

To kick off our campaign about the state of Gaywood River, today our Extinction Rebellion activists brought their fishing rods and took to the stretch of the river that passes through the Walks in King’s Lynn to see what they could find… the Gaywood River is full of 💩! 

The river used to be crystal clear water and teeming with life, you could even watch brown trout swimming in the stream at The Walks. Now the river is murky, lifeless, and filled with fungus. Which suggests it’s being polluted somewhere along its length. Water quality testing has shown that Phosphate levels in the river are four times higher in Bawsey than the river’s source at Well Hall Lane near Gayton. Phosphates get into rivers via ‘sewage’ or from ‘agricultural run-off’. 

We are asking that the Environment Agency act urgently to properly investigate and take action to stop the pollution into the river and to restore it to its former full health. Today we’ve been giving out flyers asking people to sign the petition we’re running, which already has over 680 signatures, including national-treasure Stephen Fry, saying chalk streams are a “fragile but boundlessly precious asset”. 

Julia Irving, one of our campaigners, said “It breaks my heart to see this little river that starts life with pristine water, abused and used as nothing more than a ditch or sewer to dump filth in, poisoning the life out of the water and becoming a shameful indictment of our lack of care for this rare habitat. How has it come to this?” 

There are only 200 chalk streams across the whole world, they are a rare and vital natural habitat, so we are lucky to have one in our backyard. Chalk streams emerge from the chalk aquifer, so have very pure water. This is a perfect home for a wide variety of plants and aquatic animals. Rivers and streams like this also help to prevent flooding, but the “channelisation” (straightening out) of this river harms its ability to do that. Restoring rivers like the Gaywood River back to their natural state is an important step to helping us tackle the effects of climate change.