Environment: Lingering legacy of acid rain

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Despite big cuts in air pollution which causes acid rain, the damaged rivers and lakes of Wales have shown next to no recovery from acidification, a scientific study has found.

The Welsh Acid Waters Survey 1995 found no improvement in fish and other freshwater life since a previous investigation back in 1984. Yet during this period UK emissions of sulphur dioxide, the most important acid rain pollutant, fell by 35 per cent - mainly due to a fall in coal burning by power stations. Welsh river and lake water became slightly less acid, and lower in sulphur, but the invertebrates, fish and the dipper - a small bird which scurries along stream bottoms in search of invertebrate prey - showed no recovery at all. It is estimated that about 8,000 miles of rivers and streams are affected.