Water World as Another Home for the English Nation

: 10/11

When a naval captain leaves his ship he can expect a ritual farewell. Even Prince Charles was unable to escape when in 1976 he relinquished command of the minesweeper, HMS Bronington; he was seized by white coated doctors (his officers), placed in a wheelchair and invalided out to the cheers of his crew members who held up a banner inscribed: Command has aged me.

Other marines departed in a less jovial manner. When a man died at sea his body would be sewn into canvas, weighted, and committed to the deep. The sailmaker was responsible for making the shroud, and would always put the last stitch through the corpses nose, ensuring that there was no sign of life and that the body remained attached to the weighted canvas. This practise was followed at least until the 1960s, the sailmaker receiving a bottle of rum for his work. Nowadays the bodies are seldom buried at sea but are refrigerated and brought back to land. However, those consigning a body in this way still receive the traditional bottle of rum for their trouble.


We have had a look at some samples of well and carefully preserved British folklore that tells about the British waterworld. But a question of our time no less important is whether the people with such an affection for their land try to preserve it from the harm that may cause our age of highly developed machines, ships, tunkers, etc.

Britains marine, coastal and inland waters are generally clean: some 95% of rivers, streams and canals are of good or fair quality, a much higher figure than in most other European countries. However their cleanliness cannot be taken for granted, and so continuing steps are being taken to deal with remaining threats. Discharges to water from the most potentially harmful processes are progressively becoming subject to authorisation under IPC.

Government regulations for a new system of classifying water in England and Wales came into force in May 1994. This system will provide the basis for setting statutory water quality objectives (SWQO), initially on a trial basis in a small number of catchment areas where their effectiveness can be assessed. The objectives, which will be phased in gradually, will specify for each individual stretch of water the standards that should be reached and the target date for achieving them. The system of SWQOs will provide the framework to set discharge consents. Once objectives are set, the enterprises will be under a duty to ensure that they are met.

There have been important developments in controlling the sea disposal of wastes in recent years. The incineration of wastes at sea was halted in 1990 and the dumping of industrial waste ended in 1992. In February 1994 the Government announced British acceptance of an internationally agreed ban on the dumping of low- and intermediate level wastes was already banned. Britain had not in fact dumped any radioactive waste at sea for some years preveously. Britain is committed to phasing out the dumping of sewage sludge at sea by the end of 1998. Thereafter only dredged material from ports, harbours and the like will routinely be approved for sea disposal.

Proposals for decommissioning Britains 200 offshore installations are decided on a case by case basis, looking for the best practicable environmental option and observing very rigorous international agreements and guidelines.

Farm Waste

Although not a major source of water pollution incidents, farms can represent a problem. Many pollution incidents result from silage effluent or slurry leaking and entering watercourses; undiluted farm slurry can be up to 100 times, more polluting than raw domestic sewage. Regulations set minimum construction standards for new or substantially altered farm waste handling facilities. Farmers are required to improve existing installations where there is a significant risk of pollution. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food publishes a Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water. This gives farmers guidance on, among other things, the planning and management of the disposal of their farm wastes. The Ministry also has L2 million research and development programme to examine problems of farm waste and to minimise pollution.

Britain is a signatory to the 1992 North East Atlantic Convention, which tackles pollution from land based sources, offshore installations and dumping. It also provides for monitoring and assessment of the quality of water in the conventions area. In order to minimise the environmental effects of offshore oil and gas operations, special conditions designed to protect the environment -set in consultation with environmental interests are included in licences for oil and gas exploration.

: 20/10/2006