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Climate change threatens UK’s iconic lakes

windermereEngland’s most famous lakes such as Windermere and Grasmere are facing serious threats from climate change, non-native species and pollution from farming and sewage, and need urgent action to protect and restore them for future generations, said Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency.

Lord Smith announced that the Environment Agency is undertaking an assessment of around 730 of the most important lakes across England and Wales that will need to meet high standards under the Water Framework Directive. The organisation is also taking action to revive the life and health of England’s lakes.

Speaking today at a conference on “Lakes for Living, Lakes for Life,” Lord Smith stressed the important and unique role that lakes play within the natural environment, but highlighted the poor health of some of our best known waters.

Many lakes are under pressure from poor water quality caused by pesticides and fertilisers from farming, and sewage. Changing weather patterns resulting from climate change will bring challenges with drier summers and wetter winters. Invasive species such as Pigmyweed are also driving out native species in and around lakes.

The conference, taking place on the shores of Lake Windermere — the largest lake in England and Wales — brings together experts from across the globe to discuss and agree plans to protect and restore lakes. Despite being picturesque, Windermere faces water quality issues that are having a serious impact on life below the water’s surface.

“Whilst water quality in our rivers has improved dramatically over the past 20 years, lakes have faced different, more complex environmental challenges,” said Tricia Henton, director of environment and business at the Environment Agency. “They are an important part of our environment and every bit as important as our rivers. They are invaluable to tourism. That’s why the Environment Agency and its partners are setting out a blueprint to bring life back to our lakes, creating a better environment for people and wildlife.”

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