New group unveils plan to tackle Wye pollution

Tuesday 26th July 2022 10:00 am

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A NEW cross-border working group of agencies, local authorities and other key parties has come together to tackle River Wye pollution.

The group is the initiative of South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman, whose constituency includes Ross-on-Wye and Symonds Yat West.

The key players met earlier this month at the Shell Store at the Skylon Park Enterprise Zone in Rotherwas near Hereford.

And the breakthrough means there is now a five-year integrated plan to cut pollution in the Wye.

Phosphates from intensive poultry farming and other agriculture have been blamed for the problem, which campiagners say causes algal blooms and destroy’s the river’s eco-systyem.

Mr Norman raised the matter in Parliament and The Times newspaper last month, and slammed “bureaucratic delays and inertia” for failing to tackle Wye pollution.

Also present at last week’s meeting were North Herefordshire MP Sir Bill Wiggin, senior representatives from the Environment Agency, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, OFWAT, Welsh Water, the Nutrient Management Board and the three local authorities of Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Powys, while Powys MP Fay Jones was also represented. Mr Norman said: “Some very good work has been done to cut pollution in the Wye over the years, but I think this is the first time the agencies and local authorities across the border have all come together at a senior level with Welsh Water, in order to manage the problem in an integrated way.

“It is very early days in this initiative, but there were a lot of ideas under discussion at the conference, a real sense of urgency and a desire to work together.”

He added: “The key now is for the group to pull together a properly integrated five-year plan that builds on, extends and accelerates existing work.

“I have made clear that once this is in place I will press the case at the highest levels of government for greater funding and support from the centre, on both the English and Welsh sides.

“This is a long-term problem, but the response needs to be as rapid and effective as we can all collectively make it.

“It starts with the agencies and with local and national governments, but it needs to embrace and support the amazing work of our citizen volunteers up and down the river if we are going to make the maximum impact.”

Last week saw a Wye July awareness event highlighting the problem beside Monmouth’s Monnow Bridge, while wild swimmer and environmental campaigner Angela Jones also launched out at Monmouth towing a giant egg box to protest phosphate pollution.

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