A Herefordshire MP and the former local head of the Government’s environment watchdog have again clashed over the ongoing pollution problem in the river Wye.

Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman, who is due to speak in a debate on water quality in the House of Commons today, writes in this morning’s Times that the Wye “is at grievous risk” from phosphate pollution from farm soils.

This is “exacerbated by the rapid development of chicken sheds in England and Wales”, and is “a much bigger issue” for the river than domestic sewage, he writes.

“The path to a solution is well understood and likely to be relatively inexpensive. But bureaucratic delays and inertia have impeded the way forward.”


The Environment Agency (EA), Natural England (NE) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW), along with the two governments and water companies regulator Ofwat, must “develop a single team and a joint long-term cross-agency strategy covering the river from source to mouth”, he writes.

Former EA area manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup tweeted in response: “Existing legislation is wholly inadequate to deal with the impending death of the Wye.

“Leadership needs to come from Government but as we’ve seen recently they’re not very good at it. So keep trying to throw everyone else under the bus.”

Mr Norman replied: “This is quite wrong. Do you agree that a single joined-up agency plan is needed to tackle Wye pollution? And with that plan we could approach Welsh and UK govts for support? Legislation may be needed, but we need a plan.”

To which Mr Throup said: “There is a plan, drawn up by all the agencies you mention and many more. It’s of little use as it has no funding or backing legislation.

“EA & NE requested moving water protection zone forward 6 years ago. Defra [the Government’s Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs] refused.

“I’m no EA apologist. But I do know what’s happened.”

Hereford Times: The Hereford Times Save the Wye campaign calls for more concerted action to protect the river.The Hereford Times Save the Wye campaign calls for more concerted action to protect the river.

Mr Norman said: That’s very helpful, and it would be still more so if @JamesBevanEA [EA chief executive Sir James Bevan] would consent to meet with me, as I have been asking for months.”

Mr Throup said: “In fairness to you, you have been very proactive in trying to persuade both Defra and Treasury ministers of the need for urgent action and funding. Sadly to little avail.”

The MP concluded: “That’s the truth, alas. But we press on.”

It is not the first time the two have clashed over the issue. In January, Mr Throup said it was “ridiculous” for Mr Norman to blame the Government's agencies for failing to address river pollution during a radio interview.

But Mr Norman dismissed as “nonsense” Mr Throup's claim that their shortcomings were due to government cuts.