Restoring Our Amazing River (ROAR) Water Environment Grant (WEG) project
We received a report regarding the commencement of the Restoring Our Amazing River (ROAR) Water Environment Grant (WEG) project with the Wye & Usk Foundation, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and Herefordshire Rural Hub.
In doing so, the following information was noted:
· The Wye & Usk Foundation, working with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, Herefordshire Rural Hub and the Wye Valley AONB Unit, submitted an application for the Water Environment Grant (WEG) entitled Restoring Our Amazing River (ROAR).
· The WEG scheme is competitive and a bid for £1.2million covering the English part of the Wye Catchment was submitted in May 2018.
· The ROAR project was finally approved in June 2019 with a grant of £672,000 until March 2021.
· The ROAR project includes additional farm Catchment Advisors across the English part of the Wye Catchment.
· Two advisors, covering the English part of the Wye Valley AONB and the adjacent Garren & Gamber catchment, will be employed by the Wye & Usk Foundation and hosted by the AONB Unit.
Having received the report, the following points were noted:
- The main emphasis of the project is located within Herefordshire and on the main tributaries of the River Wye. However, there are tangential benefits for Gloucestershire.
- The AONB Unit had intended to undertake an assessment of the floodplain within the project. Unfortunately, this element was written out of the bid leading to very little monitoring of outcomes.
- The project will support the objective of the National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI) scheme to reduce the landscape and visual impact of National Grid’s existing electricity infrastructure and enhance the quality of the affected designated landscapes. The National Grid is undertaking undergrounding works across four areas within the UK. £25M was available for all National Parks and AONBs across the UK for undergrounding and mitigation works. Lines within the AONB were placed 13th on the list of potential undergrounding works.
- The River Wye is used by Welsh Water and Severn Trent Water for water extraction to be used for drinking water. There are monitoring stations at Redbrook. Due to new extraction rates, there should be more water flowing down the River Wye than in previous years.
- It was noted the River Wye had remained brown for periods and it was not clear what was causing this effect. It was noted that exceptional rainfall and runoff might have contributed to this situation.
- Concern was expressed that the integrity of the River was becoming compromised due to drought and water extraction for irrigation of land. The quantity of water flowing down the river has an effect on water quality and biodiversity. However, it was noted that extraction of water licences can be revoked by the Environment Agency in times of drought.
- There has been large scale investment in irrigation reservoirs. However, issues regarding the planning process for these reservoirs have delayed progress in some instances.
- There has been a major review of the implementation of water extraction licences over previous years which had led to changes being implemented to ensure more water is able to flow down the River Wye.
- The Joint Advisory Committee agreed that the AONB Manager invites a representative from the Environment Agency to attend the next meeting in November 2019 to discuss water extraction from the River Wye.
(i) to welcome the collaboration with the Wye & Usk Foundation, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and Herefordshire Rural Hub through the Restoring Our Amazing River (ROAR) Water Environment Grant (WEG) project;
(ii) that the AONB Manager invites a representative from the Environment Agency to attend the next Joint Advisory Committee meeting in November 2019 to discuss water extraction from the River Wye.