VILLAGERS have come out in support of work that has caused devastating damage to a bank of the river Lugg, but there has also been a big uproar on social media.

Kingsland Parish Council, which represents the local community, released a statement confirming that it is aware of this week's incident at Kingsland, which has provoked a national outcry.

The parish council said it has been in talks with the Environment Agency, and agency officers have attended online council meetings recently.

But it still remains unclear whether any permission was given for the work, on the scale it was done, to go ahead.

Trees and other vegetation have been removed, with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust adding the river was "reprofiled".

Monty Don, BBC Gardeners' World host, who lives locally said it breaks his heart to see the destruction.

His Longmeadow garden in Ivington is close to the site in Kingsland.

Mike Blackmore also took to Twitter to share his opinion. He works in the industry for the Wessex Rivers Trust.

Linda Evans said on the Hereford Times Facebook page: "I think this sort of work should take place along the wye too.

"The Environment Agency doesn't carry out any maintenance in the name of nature. There was more wildlife years ago when everything was looked after properly."

Andrew Thomas added: "Our rivers have been neglected for decades.

"You hear the words 'natural habitat', my first thoughts are fallen trees and rubbish clogging our rivers. When were the rivers last dredged, the banks maintained? Not in my lifetime."

It remains unclear whether a green light was given for works to start.

Glyn Davies said: "Where's the black and white letter from the Environment Agency stating works can proceed?

"All I see here is parish council taking the words from EA in a meeting and cracking on.

"I fully appreciate the flooding effect, but unless permission from EA can be shown then its still unlawful."

Farmer John Price has admitted being responsible for clearing the riverbank, according to Saturday's Daily Telegraph.

Mr Price, of Hay Farm, said he had acted with permission.

He told the Telegraph: "I have watched this river all my life, and no one knows this river better than myself. 

"I have always looked after the river. I was asked to stop the erosion because I'm the land owner so I'm responsible for the river."

He said he had not uprooted any trees, but had only cleared those that had come down in floods.

He said flooding in the area had been getting worse over the last 10 years, and that he had the support of the village and parish council in doing the work. 

Locals have come out in support of the work, with Kingsland Parish Council saying meetings had taken place to discuss issues near the bridge on Lugg Green Road.

The council said: "A site meeting with the agency in September 2020 identified issues near the bridge, and the Environment Agency subsequently wrote that “the left hand bank directly upstream of the bridge could do with some reprofiling due to bank slumping... to ease conveyance as it is currently partially obstructing the third arch of the bridge and will look to the landowner to carry out these works”.

Another issue highlighted by the Environment Agency was “a build-up of silt and growth mostly Himalayan balsam on both the upstream and downstream sides,” the council said.

"The parish council supports work to improve the Lugg that is undertaken at the direction and instigation of the Environment Agency and is in line with the appropriate guidelines, regulations and processes that may be applicable."

Minutes of Kingsland Parish Council meetings from July, September and October of this year contain items about the "maintenance of the Lugg".

In July, an item reported on concerns about the risk of river flooding.

It was noted that trees and branches in the river might need removing, "this includes the ash tree by Lugg Green bridge which Environment Agency is already aware of.

"The size of this tree may mean it is not removed but moved and placed in a suitable area at the side of the river.

"Doubtful if more significant flood defences would happen given the relatively low number of properties affected – flood defence budgeting at the EA is prioritised by collective value of property affected."

In October Councillor Susan Rowsell reported on “a very useful” walkabout along the river with the Environment Agency.

An officer from the Environment Agency told the meeting that riparian owners [someone who owners a property bordering a river] are responsible for maintenance, but that it "may be beyond their capability at times".

While it does not appear a green light was given for the works, the Hereford Times is pushing officials for an answer.