An English town’s take on rights of nature

A town in England voted to recognize the rights of its river, the River Ouse.

Pollution at Barcombe Mills
Pollution at Barcombe Mills [Mary Parker]

English rivers are polluted. Could giving them legal rights clean them up? In the town of Lewes, the answer to that question was yes. In February, the town’s council voted yes to a rights of river motion, the first in the United Kingdom. This motion is the first step in a two-year long journey to give the River Ouse legal representation and rights. The UK is facing heavy river pollution: most of them are not swimmable, and all failed a quality test in 2019. Since then, government testing of rivers has only plummeted. Lewes’ council now takes on the task of figuring out what exactly rights of a river should be.

In this episode: 

  • Matthew Bird (@mjbirdy), mayor and former councillor of Lewes

Episode credits:

This episode was produced by Chloe K. Li and our host, Malika Bilal. Miranda Lin fact-checked this episode.

Our sound designer is Alex Roldan. Tim St Clair mixed this episode.

Our lead of audience development and engagement is Aya Elmileik. Munera Al Dosari and Adam Abou-Gad are our engagement producers.

Alexandra Locke is The Take’s executive producer, and Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera’s head of audio.

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Source: Al Jazeera