Teenage Kicks rock star condemns water loss in Welwyn Garden City and St Albans

PUBLISHED: 14:23 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:14 19 July 2019

The new nature trail follows the River Mimram. Contributed by HMWT.

The new nature trail follows the River Mimram. Contributed by HMWT.

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Former rock star and singer of Teenage Kicks has condemned water loss from historic chalk beds in Welwyn Garden City and St Albans.

Fergeal Sharkey chatted to members of the Welwyn Natural History Society after his talk in May 2017. Picture: Supplied.Fergeal Sharkey chatted to members of the Welwyn Natural History Society after his talk in May 2017. Picture: Supplied.

The former Undertones lead singer - turned fly-fishing enthusiast - Feargal Sharkey got involved with the cause of protecting Herts chalk beds from his time spent angling for fish in the River Lea, Mimram and Ver.

The Derry-native told this newspaper that water flows underneath the Welwyn viaduct and in St Albans are now gone.

"It's dried up to a ditch!"

"Nothing has been done for 30 years on this issue and now the beds are in terrible state," he said.

The Digswell/Welwyn Viaduct. Picture: Google Street ViewThe Digswell/Welwyn Viaduct. Picture: Google Street View

Mr Sharkey, who lives in north London, lays the blame squarely at the doors of the Environmental Agency.

The EA says it is taking action and since 2016 has "slashed the amount of water that water companies take from six chalk streams in the area north of London by over 40 million litres a day".

"This is not as easy as turning off the taps," a spokesman said.

"Replacing the water that comes from chalk streams is highly complex and has to be done in a way that balances the environment with the needs of consumers and maintaining public supply.

"We have a number of projects in the pipeline on the River Ver that will be delivered in the next year or so, including a major project in St Albans."

The singer of punk hit, Teenage Kicks, has also challenged Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps to take part in a parliamentary debate on the degraded state of England's chalk streams on Monday.

Mr Shapps said he was pleased Conservative Broxbourne MP Charles Walker launched the debate and said he will write to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove MP for an urgent update.

"I'm deeply concerned to see these recent photos of the current state of some of our rivers.

"I've long campaigned to reduce water abstraction from the River Mimram, in particular successfully restricting the Fulling Mill pumping station."

Bim Afolami MP for Harpenden and Hitchin said on twitter he would also attend the debate.

The EA also urged people during the "hot, dry weather" to use water responsibly.

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