Agenda item

Wye Water quality update


We received a report regarding an update on the River Wye water quality situation.


In doing so the following information was noted:


·          The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales provided a joint presentation at the previous meeting on the situation with water quality in the River Wye.


·          Through July 2021 the ‘Walking With the Wye’ pilgrimage took place along the length of the River Wye to raise awareness of the environmental crisis in the Wye.


·          RIVERCIDE - George Monbiot’s live documentary on the state of the UK’s rivers was broadcast on 14th July 2021 further raising the profile of the pollution impacts on the Wye.


·          In late July / early August 2021 another severe algal bloom extended down the Wye from Hoarwithy to below Monmouth, smothering most of the Water Crowfoot beds.


·          Citizens Science projects monitoring phosphate levels in the Wye and its tributaries have been initiated by Friends of the Upper Wye, Friends of the Lugg, CPRW and Herefordshire CPRW. A Friends of the Lower Wye group has also been formed.


·          The Wye Nutrient Management Board met on 27th September 2021 to further debate the issues, including the Wye Phosphate Action Plan being finalised for publication.


·          Avara Foods acknowledged at the Nutrient Management Board that they were “part of the problem” in polluting the Wye and so are looking at opportunities to be “part of the solution” through initiatives to remove its chicken manure from the catchment.


·          DEFRA have increased funding for Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England (NE) to enhance resources for advice, monitoring and enforcement.


·          The AONB Unit continues to manage projects and initiatives including with EA, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Wye & Usk Foundation, to advise farmers in mitigating soil erosion and reducing agricultural run-off into the river.


·          The AONB Farming in Protected Landscapes programme may be applicable to farm wetland enhancement schemes upstream of the AONB.


·          Lobbying of both governments by public, private and 3rd sector interests continues for adequate resources to reduce phosphate levels across the Wye catchment.


·          The Environment Agency has launched a 6 month consultation on the Severn River Basin Management Plan which includes the Wye catchment.


Having received the report, the following points were noted:


·         In 2018, regulations came into force regarding the reduction in prevention of agriculture diffuse pollution.  The Environment Agency has written to all commercial poultry holdings in the Wye catchment on the England side of the border stating that these regulations will be enforced.


·         As of 22nd October 2021, a Government consultation document was issued regarding the Severn River basin management plan. It was suggested that the Joint Advisory Committee makes a strong response to the consultation document highlighting the water quality issues in respect of the River Wye and its tributaries.


·         An active group of Herefordshire farmers are working with the Wye and Usk foundation with regard to addressing the issue of phosphates in these rivers.


·         Monitoring of the water quality within the River Wye is being undertaken.


We noted the report.

Supporting documents: