Monday 26 August 2019

"You may ungobsmack yourself"

'Dirty old river' no longer

Yesterday's The World This Weekend was "a special climate edition". 

It featured a report from a BBC journalist embedded with Greenpeace (containing an interview with a Greenpeace campaigner) before moving onto interviewers with an Extinction Rebellion leader and former UN climate change head Christiana Figueres. 

If that was rather too many climate activists for you to stomach before Sunday lunch, then the programme ended with a good news story, about the cleaning up of the Thames, which I enjoyed.

It led, however, to a complaint from ex-Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford (now in the Lords as Baroness Ludford):
Gobsmacked that Jonny Dymond report on the BBC's World at One about clean-up of the Thames fails to mention that it results wholly from EU enforcement action (including the #SuperSewer - aka ‘Sarah’s tunnel' - following my 2005 petition, when a London MEP, about raw sewage discharges).
Jonny Dymond replied:  
The Thames clean up started in the 60s. That had nothing to do with the EU. The EU was important later on. But recovery began before EU enforcement. You may ungobsmack yourself.
Her Ladyship wasn't buying it:
So why did you not even mention EU law since the 1990s? The #Supersewer - which you cited - would not be being built if the EU had not taken action. I will stay gobsmacked, thanks very much.
This polite spat led me to look into the matter and introduced me the great British man mainly responsible for the clean-up and the return of salmon to the Thames: the splendidly-named Sir Hugh Fish

His obituaries make for fascinating reading. The one in The New York Times was headlined:

Hugh Fish, 76, Who Made Thames So Clean the Salmon Came Back

His role points to the point that Lib Dem Baroness Sarah couldn't have been more wrong in claiming the rebirth of the Thames as being "wholly" the result of EU enforcement action.

(Let's be charitable and blame it on her rampant over-enthusiasm for the EU rather than ignorance or dishonesty or anti-British bias.)

In the 1950s the National History Museum declared the river "biologically dead". But the British government took action and pressed industry and local authorities to stop polluting and by the mid-60's the river was fit again for eels.

In the late 60s and the 70s, Hugh Fish used the UK regulatory bodies set up to make further progress to bring about the return of other fish species, with 80 returning under his stewardship.

But it was the iconic salmon he made the benchmark for success and relentlessly strove to bring about. Early promises of success led within a decade to anglers landed their first Thames salmon for decades.

It's a fascinating story about what one man - and one country - can achieve. The BBC should commission a documentary about him (but, for quite a few reasons, probably won't).

1 comment:

  1. Surely in a democracy the people, through their parliament, get to choose their spending priorities? Money spent on cleaning up the Thames could have been spent on cancer care, for instance.

    This shows the true colours of the Eurofanatics like Baroness Ludford, (Lodford?), they want to be able to lobby supra-national governments and get their will imposed from above, which is hardly liberal or democratic.


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