2023 has been a year of significant progress for RevIvel in its aim of restoring year-round water in
the Ivel Springs and flow to the river. Importantly our membership numbers and those of our
supporters grew so that there are now about 200 individuals contributing financially towards our
activities. We are increasingly known in the district and within the broader ‘water community’ as an
effective and active organisation fighting for river remediation and restoration. And our work with
the water industry through our various contacts and our consultant, John Lawson, has led to a better
understanding of how the Ivel works and what needs to be done in the future.
The year started off with a major event in January at which we launched our film (Restoring theUpper Ivel – YouTube). This had been commissioned by RevIvel in 2022 and made by Parick Rangely
and Kathryn McKenzie of RevIvel. We had ambitiously booked the hall at Knights Templar School
with three scheduled screenings at hourly intervals throughout the afternoon and were anxious that
no-one would come. Fortunately, even though the weather was, to say the least, inclement, the hall
was packed for much of the afternoon. The audience of about 250 included many members and
non-members from Baldock, as well as county and district councillors and interested parties from
much further afield. Not to mention representatives from Affinity Water and the Environment
Agency who were there to see what we were getting up to. There was a real sense that RevIvel’s
message was getting through.
Our major fundraising event of the year was a concert of classical music put on by Catherine Wilmers
in St Mary’s Church. Catherine is a well-known and highly regarded cellist who plays regularly at
concerts in the UK and across Europe and this was the second such concert Catherine has organised
for our benefit. She assembled a group of professional musicians who presented us with a beautiful
evening of music by a variety of composers which entertained us for over two hours. The
programme also featured a new work written by Frances Matthews, the daughter of Nick Balmer,
one of our committee members. Entitled Cry me a River, it involved some audience participation and
given the cause of the event, was very well received by the 150 or so present.
Later in the summer, a chance encounter with local political activists, supposedly across the kitchen
table at Radwell Mill, provided Richard Meredith Hardy the opportunity to press the case for the Ivel
and Chalk Streams in general. This set a series of subsequent meetings in train involving Sir Oliver
Heald, who chairs the All-party committee on The Protection of Chalk Streams, plus supporters of all
parties in the House of Lords. The result was the addition of a clause in the Levelling Up and
Regeneration Bill that afforded legal protection for all Chalk Streams across the UK.
The River Ivel achieved further fame nationally when Kathryn McKenzie represented RevIvel in a
feature on Chalk Streams and the pressures they face on the BBC programme, Countryfile (BBC iPlayer – Countryfile – Porthcawl Surf and Sand). The feature was broadcast in June and lasted 13
minutes (starting 10 minutes into the programme) with Kathryn being interviewed on the banks of
the Ivel – yet another example of the reach our organisation is achieving.
Most recently, during November and just in time for the AGM, we were briefed on the results of Ivel
catchment modelling that Affinity Water and Anglian Water commissioned as a result of the Lawson
Report (Ivel-report-21.6.21-BHs-redacted.pdf (revivel.org)). You may recall that the Lawson Report
proposes a model whereby water abstraction from the boreholes near Baldock should be limited to
10% of the current rate and the aquifer and river allowed to recover naturally. Water could then be
abstracted from the river at Offord, where it joins the Ouse and fed into Grafham Water and hence
into the drinking water system. The new modelling is based on a revised and improved data set of
river flows, rainfall and geology and, in a nutshell, confirms the conclusions John Lawson reached
last year. We are now putting more pressure on Affinity to take this investigation from the desk to
real life and switch off the water abstraction to let the river flow again. This in line with an approach
known as Chalk Streams First (Chalk-Streams First – Chalk-Streams (chalkstreams.org)), and if
applied to the Ivel, could be a pilot study that could then be applied to rivers elsewhere.
In addition to the highlights above, members of RevIvel have continued to present our case through
talks and other activities to general interest groups locally and throughout the region. Revival has
also make representations to Urban and Civic, master planners for the ‘Growth of Baldock’ scheme,
regarding effective waste-water management and ‘blue’ infrastructure in the development.
As I hope you will appreciate from the above examples, much of what we do is planned, while other
achievements have been opportunistic. The strength of our organisation is that we can tap into a
wide range of experience, expertise and contacts in our core committee and in the wider
membership to take advantage of opportunities as and when they arise
Our future activities are now geared to pushing the water industry to implement the Lawson Report,
installing a flow monitoring station closer to the source of the Ivel and developing a programme of
river quality monitoring, once flow has been restored.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone involved in RevIvel for their support, work and dedication over
the past year. I am continually amazed by what you have achieved. Here’s to even greater progress