A senior environmental official has accused Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman of “throwing statutory agencies under the bus” in criticising them on national radio over the river Wye’s pollution problem.

Mr Norman said on yesterday’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme that Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Natural England and the Environment Agency (EA), the three official bodies responsible for the river Wye, “have done a deplorable job” by failing to work together to address the problem.

But yesterday evening the EA’s former area manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup responded by Tweeting: “Ridiculous to hear Jesse Norman happily throwing the statutory agencies under the bus.”

Mr Norman had called for more enforcement, monitoring and planning – “all funded entirely through grant in aid which his Government has cut by two-thirds in the last decade”, Throup added.

The MP responded: “I have great respect for you and the work of the EA, and after all your time there and working on the Wye I understand why you would want to support them.

“But this claim is nonsense. I am doing no such thing.”

Mr Norman continued: “What I have always called for is for the EA and other agencies to put together a task force with named accountable leadership which is able to develop a single integrated clean-up strategy for the whole river.

“The agencies are called agencies for a reason. Let’s see some agency from them, rather than the present cross-border fudge.”

Mr Norman first criticised the agencies’ “seriously inadequate” response to the Wye’s pollution problem in a letter to them last June.

Mr Throup retired from his EA position at the end of December after 22 years, but remains active on Twitter.

NRW’s mid-Wales operations manager Ann Weedy also defended her agency, saying: “We work closely with our colleagues at Natural England and the Environment Agency as well as other stakeholders from across all sectors on improving conditions in the River Wye.

“Collectively we are working on the actions agreed in the Wye Nutrient Management Plan, to ensure that phosphate levels can be reduced, and good river health achieved and maintained.

“Improving the health of our rivers is the long-term aim (and) NRW is doing everything we can within our resources and legal powers.”