THE eight week public consultation on whether an area of the River Wharfe should receive bathing water status closes on Friday, October 2.

More than a thousand responses have been received from interested parties across the country, as well as Ilkley residents, farmers and swimming groups. Yorkshire Water has also responded and announced its support for the application.

The submissions will now be assessed, and will be taken into account by the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, before he makes a final decision on the designation, to be announced in the coming months.

The area of the River Wharfe under consideration runs between Ilkley Main Bridge and Beanlands Island. If successful, it would mean a part of the river flowing through Ilkley would be the first river in England monitored regularly during the bathing season (15 May to 30 September) for bacteria detrimental to human health.

The Environment Agency would collect samples throughout the bathing season and report the bathing water quality annually as it does for coastal bathing beaches.

Bathing waters are classified annually as Excellent, Good, Sufficient or Poor, based on an assessment of bacteria levels in the water.

Martin Christmas, of the Environment Agency, said: “It is heartening that more than 1,000 people have wanted to play an active role in the consultation. It’s a real testament to how communities view the benefit they get from a healthy environment.

“We have come a long way in improving water quality in Yorkshire. The River Don, once the dirtiest river in Europe, now has salmon returning to Sheffield city centre. Here in Wharfedale, paddling, rowing boats, paddleboarding and swimming are all part of how people want to use the river environment.

“If the bathing water is designated I am looking forward to working with partners and the community to investigate and improve water quality pressures.”