Herefordshire’s first new wetland to absorb pollution from waste water, and so allow more homes to be built in the county, will be created near Leominster.

A planning application submitted by environmental charity the Wye and Usk Foundation on behalf of Herefordshire Council proposes creating an "integrated constructed wetland" on what is currently a field east of the village of Luston.

This will take effluent from the neighbouring waste water treatment works, “to provide enhanced treatment to benefit the local watercourses”, the application says.

The proposed wetland will be able to hold over 2,600 cubic metres (570,000 gallons) of waste water at any one time, and process up to 64,000m3 (14 million gallons) of waste water a year.


The project is part of a council scheme using £2 million in government funding to buy land by water treatment works to turn into wetlands, which will then filter out phosphates from the sewage.

Developers wishing to build homes or other structures that would increase water pollution will be required to buy credits in proportion to the impact of their schemes in order to get them approved, according to the plan.

The council’s assistant director for regulation, environment and waste services Marc Willimont said the scheme should be in place by the end of this year.

The catchment area of the central section of the river Wye, and its tributary the Lugg, together cover most of the county and are a designated special area of conservation (SAC).

In July 2019, Natural England told the council it would object to any planning applications that would increase nutrient levels, particularly phosphates, in these areas.

As a result, 82 planning applications involving 1,650 homes are currently on hold, though schemes that can be shown not to increase phosphate levels can still go ahead.

Wetlands created at treatment works were described as "likely to provide the best current strategic mitigation options" in a report prepared for Herefordshire Council in March, which assessed different ways of addressing the development moratorium.