Citizens’ Jury for Thames Valley (South Chilterns) - Information page

Closes 1 Apr 2022

Opened 5 May 2021

Overview

The Rethinking Water Citizens’ Jury was put together by the Environment Agency and a Local Advisory Group working with the Involve Foundation. The jury, which took place at the end of March 2021, debated local issues, shared ideas and questioned environmental experts on all aspects of the water environment. This project to involve communities in decisions about the future of their local river has taken place in the Thames Valley / South Chilterns.

The Thames Valley / South Chilterns Citizens’ Jury is made up of members of the public. It was tasked with examining how people value and connect to their local river system, and with producing recommendations that will be used to guide the future of managing water for us and our partners.

The findings, in the form of recommendations written and recorded by the jurors - Video of the recommendations from the Thames Valley

 

The final recommendations from the Thames Valley Citizens’ Jury were:

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We recommend tackling sewage and improving water quality because it is at the heart of encouraging more people to value and connect to their local river system. We believe better education, regulation, enforcement and investment is essential to achieve this, especially in an area where chalk streams are a vital part of the system. This approach needs to be a collaborative evidence led long term strategy, involving all stakeholders. This includes central and local government, regulators, industry, landowners, agriculture, Non Governmental Organisations, volunteer groups and the public.

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Governments must commit through legislation to an ongoing investment plan spanning well into the future that focuses on sustainable water supply and quality, identifying sources of funding and guarantee its use for this purpose. This should be controlled by an independent public body ensuring the funds are used to address specific goals and targets relating to water quality and use and holding water companies to account for the expenditure of this money.

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We recommend that the current planning system be transformed to ensure long term sustainability, and environmentally friendly use of water and other resources. The planning process in its entirety must:
  • support the development of housing and other infrastructure in ways that reduces water demand,
  • does not negatively impact the local environment,
  • protects water supply given the current and future impact of climate change,
  • help people understand the link between demand, supply and quality of their water connects them to the river system.

What we will do with the recommendations

The findings from the juries will inform our future water management plans. As a direct result of the project we will use this mandate to:

  • Incorporate the views of the Citizen Jury into the Thames River Basin Management Plan
  • Work with the South Chilterns Catchment Partnership to support projects, including education
  • We will take your recommendations to help develop our future water ambition. We will also advise Government on the recommendations regarding regulation, enforcement and investment especially in an area where chalk streams are a vital part of the system. This approach needs to be a collaborative,  evidence led long term approach involving all stakeholders

The Local Advisory Group for this jury was made up of a range of organisations from public, private and charity sector. They chose to present different aspirations and visions for the River Thames as a way of exploring the key issues and potential future changes. The Thames Valley jury listened to evidence from a broad range of environmental experts to ensure a balanced view including:

  • Rivers Trust
  • Thames Water
  • The Angling Trust
  • Thames 21
  • University of Reading
  • Reading Climate Action Network
  • End Sewage Pollution
  • Chiltern Rangers

You can find all the evidence for these discussions by watching our presentation videos (below), and the Managing Water in Our Environment video on our Environment Agency TV channel.

Presentation videos

Session 1

Toni Scarr, Environment Agency – introduction to Rethinking Water -

 

Michael Donnelly, Involve – introduction to the Citizens' Jury Process

 

Richard Thompson and Emma Hill, Environment Agency - Introduction to Thames Valley

 

Session 2

Charlotte Hitchmough, Rivers Trust - Issues in the South Chilterns, a perspective from the catchment hosts

 

Yvette De Garis, Thames Water - The role of the Water Company and their priorities

 

Chris Gardner, South East Rivers Trust - A healthy river system

 

John Shaw, Chiltern Rangers - Communities taking direct action to improve the rivers

 

Chris Coode, Thames 21 - Connecting communities

 

Jo Clark, University of Reading Landwise Project - Land management to create a healthy river

 

Stuart Singleton-White, The Angling Trust - Recreation on the river 

 

Chris Beales, Reading Climate Action Network / The Environment Agency- Enabling safe access to the river

 

Claire Robertson, End Sewage Pollution / Thames 21 - Wellbeing and the river

 

Find out more about Citizens' Juries

Should you wish to see any of the other citizen juries please visit our overview page:

Rethinking Water Citizens’ Juries overview information page

Audiences

  • NGOs

Interests

  • Business and industry
  • Flood management
  • Coastal management
  • Fishing and boating
  • Water resources
  • Water quality
  • Habitats and wildlife
  • Permits
  • Environmental permitting