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Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

Nature needs legal protection - Talk on Tuesday 18th May

Monday, 26 April 2021 09:52

River Granta - Shelford recreation ground River Granta - Shelford recreation ground cc-by-sa/2.0 - © David Lamkin -

Friends of the River Cam invite you to hear Paul Powlesland, a barrister who campaigns for the legal recognition of the rights of nature. His online talk is entitled “Recognising Nature Rights” and will be held on Tuesday 18th May from 7 - 8.30 p.m.

Obtain your free tickets from

About Lawyers for Nature and Paul Powlesland

Paul founded Lawyers for Nature under the banner: ‘representing the natural world and all who are seeking to defend it’. Lawyers for Nature gives legal advice, proposes legislation, and provides free legal representation for environmental activists. He managed to stop the illegal arrests of activists in Sheffield standing under trees to protect them and those previously arrested received compensation. He has a particular love for rivers. He set up friends of the River Roding in Barking to revive a stretch of the river- bank and restore access for the local community. He has stated the need for urgent action to defend the natural world: ‘We stand at the most crucial juncture in the history of humanity. It’s a really weird time since we are at the “make-or-break” of our civilisation... No part of our civilisation will remain untouched if it collapses; not even our legal system and yet everyone is blithely carrying on as if this issue is not real.’


The controversial Oxford-Cambridge Expressway was cancelled in March but the Government still aims to increase economic output of the Oxford-Cambridge region with one million jobs and one million houses, with Cambridgeshire’s share (271,000) increasing the entire housing stock of the county by 2050 by more than 80%.

Plans for mitigation imagine “doubling nature” in places by 2050, but this will only come at the cost of losing other areas to development, and as Dieter Helm, Chair of Defra Natural Capital Committee, admits ‘Net environmental gain has never been achieved at scale’.

The River Cam and its tributaries are in their death throes, sucked dry by water companies and polluted by sewage. How can pumping the rivers full of even more sewage be part of ‘doubling nature’ or ensuring a ‘lasting green legacy’? Following the recent Panorama programme on river degradation, a petition was launched on the Government Petitions website, asking the Government to ‘Ban Water Companies discharging raw sewage into water courses’ Local Plans and Local Transport Strategies take the Ox-Cam Arc ambitions for granted, about which the general public has been neither informed nor consulted.

At a recent Westminster Forum Paul Leinster, a former CEO of the Environment Agency and lead member on Natural Capital for the OxCam Arc, the incoming chair of Water Resources East, the brainchild of Anglian Water, admitted that what to do with the wastewater is one of the biggest issues for the OxCam Arc.

As the Guardian and others have highlighted, Anglian Water, the developer partner of Cambridge City Council, is a serial offender. Feargal Sharkey, the leading campaigner on rivers, who spoke at an earlier event hosted by Friends of the River Cam said in his evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: “Water companies have paid out over £60bn in dividends to shareholders while filling our rivers with sewage.” Watch at

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