The River Stour Trust has always paid the greatest attention to its potential environmental impact in all its activities, since it was formed in 1968.
The Stour Navigation is a natural water course for most of its length and source for drinking water for the surrounding population. The Trust has always seen one of its aims as being returning and maintaining this water course to a healthy state where it can be enjoyed by everyone, as well as restoring a historically important piece of transport heritage.
It has always been the Trust’s aim that the river be enjoyed by anglers, walkers, canoeists, rowers, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts, as well as the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come to Constable Country and Dedham Vale every year to visit the places and scenes made famous by the artist John Constable and bringing in over £60 million into the local economy.
From its earliest days the Trust has pioneered the use of silent electric power for its passenger trip boats as a way of safeguarding the local and global environment, as well as allowing passengers to appreciate the river in the same peaceful way as when the barges were horse-drawn, and at the same time to get close to nature in a way that many of them, particularly children from towns and cities will never have experienced. To see the delight on their faces as they watch a pair of swans with their family of cygnets, or a mother duck with her brood of ducklings is one of the pleasures for our skippers and crews.
We always endeavor to purchase responsibly sourced equipment and materials including using the least harmful antifouling coatings we can on our boats, while still understanding that keeping the hulls free from weed also drastically reduces energy consumption. Our disabled access boat currently has no option but to have a petrol outboard for operational reasons and a four-stroke motor being less environmentally polluting than a two-stroke, has always been chosen. The development of higher powered electric outboards is regularly assessed for potential future replacement.
We are also working to develop solar panel technology to reduce the power needed from the national grid to recharge the electric boat batteries. These are sealed gel, to ensure there is no risk of spillage and water course pollution, or the venting of gasses to the atmosphere.
We see ourselves as wardens of the river and when working in or near the river we pay attention to local environmental issues, ensuring wherever possible that we do not disturb nesting birds, breeding mammals and spawning fishes. With the exception of emergency tree felling or pruning, routine river bank maintenance and pruning to maintain safe navigation is never conducted during the nesting seasons.
Our volunteers are instructed to immediately report any pollution issues they may witness whilst operating on the river and advising visitors on potential polluting, or wildlife disturbance activities. Our volunteers regularly form working parties for the collection of river bank and floating detritus, maintaining the countryside accordingly.
River weed is only cut for essential safe passage of our boats, but it is undisturbed in all other areas to provide protective cover from predators for fishes, their fry and other crustaceans.
Volunteers are provided with pictorial guidance to be alert for invasive species, particularly Japanese Knotweed on the banks; the American Crayfish and the Floating Pennywort, which is known to enter the upper reaches of the river from the national water transfer system.
The Trust is committed to environmental leadership in all its activities and has procedures in place to provide a safe, healthy workplace; protect the environment and conserve energy and natural resources.
The Trust strives to achieve a healthy and sustainable environment by:
- Providing safe and healthy work practices and ensuring that employees and volunteers are competent in the use of appropriate tools, equipment and use of the built environment.
- Being environmentally responsible in the communities where we operate and strive to correct incidents or conditions that may endanger the environment.
- Conserving natural resources by adopting sustainability and pollution prevention practices. e.g. extending the life of equipment through preventive maintenance; purchasing and reworking used equipment and recycling materials.
- Developing and improving operations and technologies to minimise waste and dispose of waste safely and responsibly.
- Ensuring the responsible use of appropriate energy sources throughout our activities. Developing and improving operations and technologies to minimise energy consumption and the use of renewable energy sources wherever available.
- Participating in initiatives with other relevant agencies and conservation stakeholders in efforts to improve environmental protection and understanding.
- Continually striving to improve our environmental management procedures and performance.
- Promptly reporting all non-compliance issues in accordance with applicable governmental reporting requirements, evaluating causes of any non-compliance and implementing corrective action.
- Establishing procedures for environmental compliance to all relevant rules and regulations and striving to exceed these standards where reasonably practicable.
- Ensuring that all employees and volunteers understand and comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations.
- Promptly correct any practice or condition not in compliance with this RST policy and its procedures.
- Reviewing this policy statement and relevant procedures periodically.