Thank you Herefordshire councillors of all political parties, and of none, for standing together in your passionate defence of the rivers and wildlife of our county.

I worked as a journalist in several parts of the country and sat through many a council meeting - mostly routine and workmanlike sessions but dull and unmemorable.


Herefordshire Council’s debate on the environment (March 5) was something else, despite the drawbacks of the online meetings format. Councillors spoke with one voice. They were eloquent, passionate, and they pulled no punches. They are demanding MPs, Government ministers and the poor shackled Environment Agency intervene in the rivers crisis before it’s too late.

The stats are in. Much of the river system in the Wye and Lugg catchment is virtually dead through poisoning by a chronically high concentration of phosphates. Recent high levels of soil run-off from arable fields has added to the problem of rivers so low in water quality they can support few life forms.

The local anglers confirm that ‘wild’ fish are in catastrophic decline. A club must spend thousands of pounds putting reared fish into the river so members have something to catch. Other wildlife species are going - I can’t remember the last time I saw a kingfisher.

I would urge all those who love our precious environment – I believe there are many – to vocally get behind our councillors in their demand to MPs, ministers and the Environment Agency to act now. The cause of the river poisoning is known – millions of chickens in intensive poultry units either side of the Welsh border. Numbers have risen dramatically.

The issue was well explained in the debate, the last item in a lengthy meeting. It can be viewed on the council’s YouTube channel.

Pete Blench


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