“People feel that they are not being heard and that in turn Nature, and in particular the river, is not being heard.”

This is the central argument presented by Lewes town mayor and district councillor Matthew Bird in a motion that sets out his vision of formally recognising the rights of his local river, the Ouse. The motion, submitted last February, was the first of its kind to be passed by a council in England, and thus it sets an impressive precedent. Yet Bird’s intention is not unique. In recent years, the UK has seen a proliferation of initiatives aimed at extending legal ...


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