As more and more countries grant natural features or ecosystems legal personhood, the UK’s fight to pass nature rights laws is quietly gaining pace
The River Frome murmurs and babbles through the woods and fields of north Somerset. It is popular with anglers and wild swimmers but is often polluted with a cocktail of agricultural runoff, leading to frequent complaints from the public.
In 2018, Frome Town Council tried to pass a bylaw giving part of the river and the adjacent Rodden meadow the status of a person in law. This would establish their right to exist, flourish and thrive, and for the river to flow freely and have a natural water cycle, as well as ensuring timely and effective restoration if they were damaged. The council and a local charity, Friends of the River Frome, were to be made joint guardians of the river and meadow, tasked with balancing their interests with the health and safety of local people.