AN URGENT plea has gone out to 'save our chalk streams' as the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says new laws are needed to make polluters pay. 

Megan McCubbin, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust president, joined school children from Whitchurch Primary School this week to call on the government.

Megan, a zoologist and conservationist, is also well known for her work as a television presenter. 

The trusts' new campaign wants to see pioneering legal protections introduced for one of the world’s rarest habitats.  

It is calling on the government to tackle the crisis, by introducing new laws to hold water companies to account and repair damage. 

Ms McCubbin said: “This beautiful River Test, along with all rivers, deserves to be treated with respect. The government predicts that the UK’s rivers will not be clean for another 40 years. To have to wait until 2063 for our rivers to become healthy would be devastating.  

READ MORE: Winchester cyclists sent off by Pope raise £70,000 for Cancer Research

“We need to be acting more now to protect these eco-systems, as they are critical for us, not only as human beings but also for wildlife. We are asking everyone to use their voice to ask for more designation and protection for our chalk streams. We need you to use your voice and speak up for chalk streams so please message and email your MP today. If you use your voice, you might just win for nature.” 

Children from Whitchurch Primary School took part in a range of education activities alongside the River Test on Tuesday, September 19.

Ms McCubbin added: “It has been great to don my wellies and meet up with lots of children from Whitchurch Church of England Primary School.

"Our aim was to go out and see all the invertebrates and creatures down by the banks of the River Test. We’ve been lucky, seeing silverback and water beetles, and lots of shrimps and things to get us all excited. And we should be excited about these habitats as we are so lucky to have them. The children have had a great day learning about all the wildlife and the issues that our precious chalk streams face.”  

Sienna Somers, policy and advocacy manager at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife, Trust said: “The astonishing fact is that not a single river in England, including our iconic chalk streams, is in good overall health. We know that people across the country are sick of seeing our rivers being abused. The government says our rivers won’t be healthy until 2063 but this is too late for nature, and certainly too late for those of us who would love to be able to enjoy clean rivers in our lifetimes. 

“Chalk streams are our equivalent to the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon Rainforest: a truly special habitat that we need to protect for generations to come.

“We need to see powerful new protections and immediate action, so that our chalk streams can be brought back to their former glory now, not in 40 years.”