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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Groundwater Development in England

Hadrian F. Cook

Environment and History 5(1999): 75-96

Current groundwater protection policies for England and Wales and licence controls are the outcome of a complicated history of resource development, legislative change and institutional evolution. Conflicts emerged in the late nineteenth century reflecting the need to balance resource exploitation for public supply and industry with environmental considerations. This situation arose through a late appreciation of plausible scientific principles and the 'invisibility' of groundwater; the result has been a near crisis in resource management. The issues discussed provide an interface between 'green history' and frameworks for sustainable development. An overview of groundwater exploitation is presented with case studies of low flows, the nitrate issue and salinisation of chalk aquifers.

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