Herefordshire’s rivers are in a mess. The HT article on how it is failing in Wales but not in England highlights the ridiculous situation facing the river Wye – it doesn’t understand borders and political semantics over whether it is officially failing or not.

Last week Herefordshire councillors agreed to write to MPs and government ministers asking them to acknowledge the disaster – take a cross border, strategic view on the situation which is affecting the ecology, economy and communities that live around the Wye Special Area of Conservation and its tributaries. We need to urgently resource and enable our statutory agencies to address these issues with the honesty that they demand. 

In my ward residents in the settlements of Llanwarne and downstream neighbouring Llangarron are witnessing flooding from the Gamber and Garron brooks, unseen before – both brooks are also chemically failing. Every councillor will have similar stories to tell.

Businesses in the new homes industry in North Herefordshire have been unable to trade for almost 2 years. Previously viable businesses have been forced to work beyond Herefordshire causing significant lost investment, lost jobs, lost skills and lost housing. According to Merry Albright from Border Oak, this is a catastrophic disadvantage to Herefordshire and its rural communities and will have long lasting negative impacts - investment losses

equating to between £100 and £120 million. By the time the moratorium is lifted it could be £300 million. Yet the rivers are still being polluted. With no end in sight - the moratorium on housing has done nothing to address the poor conditions of an exceptional ecological system supposedly protected by the highest international laws.  

There are around 10million more chickens in the Upper Wye than there were in 2008. A report by aqua scientist Dr Nick Everall on the situation says: Given the combination of nutrient (phosphate) bio signatures, associated chemical fingerprints and the presence of large numbers of poultry units, there was – on the balance of probabilities, an association between these factors.

Yet, despite the evidence, there is no moratorium on intensive poultry units. It’s like cracking a nut with a sledge-hammer – but the wrong nut. 

Herefordshire is facing the twin catastrophes of repeated flooding and poisoning of our waterways. Climate and ecological breakdown are a real and thoroughly tangible threat to Herefordshire. All levels of government must be fully engaged to address this.

Cllr Toni Fagan

Birch Ward

Green Party

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