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Ilkley pollution meeting is well attended

Organised by Ilkley Clean River Campaign, The Solution is Less Pollution town meeting took place last night, 7 February, at Ilkley Grammar School to discuss pollution levels in the river Wharfe and what can be done to tackle the issue.

It was well attended by over 100 residents along with John Grogan MP, Councillor Mike Stidworthy and representatives from the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Climate Action Ilkley, Wharfedale Tackles Plastic and Tesco.  Look North covered the meeting, this is available on catch up on the BBC iPlayer (watch from 3:56).

Becky Malby from the Ilkley Clean River Campaign (ICRC) said ‘We are convinced that the Consent Limit (the level if inflow water at which Yorkshire Water can discharge raw sewage into the Wharfe) is set too low. We were shocked that the estimated 40+ discharges a year are legal. New telemetry being installed at the sewage plant will give us the actual number. If its higher than the acceptable 40+ then we are eligible for an upgrade of the works - which will then happen in the next 10 years’

Becky added ‘overall the Town was not impressed by the low tolerance the Environment Agency has set for discharges into the Wharfe, and their lack of concern for our river given they are supposed to protect our environment. We voted for the Consent limit to be raised.’

The meeting discussed the idea of putting up sign to warn swimmers of the potential health hazard, something Ilkley Town Council isn’t keen to do as it could put tourists off coming to the town. ICRC takes the view that to warn people they could get sick if they play or swim in the river is the responsible thing to do.

John Grogan MP suggested getting Ilkley a designated bathing status, like the Hampstead ponds in London, which will mean they have to clean up the river. ICRC will pursue this.

Other plan action include:-

  • A group of residents have volunteered to join a water testing team to test for organic pollution lead by prof Rick Batterbee. 

  • The Yorkshire Rivers Trust is going to do a 1 day monitoring in April for the whole town to join in.

  • Tesco is looking into water butts and whether they can run a publicity campaign so Ilkley residents can stop water going into the sewage system when it rains, and that will reduce discharges. Moorfields and IGS students will raise this in their school and with other schools in Ilkley

  • We are exploring the legal route to take the EA to court for flouting the EU Water Framework Directive. 

  • Climate Action Ilkley will bring the issue of sustainable drainage into the Neighbourhood Development Plan so any new building doesn't add to the problem


Becky also said ‘Ilkley Clean River Campaign will continue to campaign for the limits to be raised to 'storm levels' which is where they should be set (in our view a few times a year not in typical Yorkshire rain). We think the signage will help get everyone in the town's attention to sort the problem out at source.’

The ICRC website is

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