ON Tuesday I listened to Ludlow's Conservative MP, Philip Dunne, talking on the BBC about the government’s plans to ditch anti-pollution controls in relation to sewage from house-building in areas like the River Lugg catchment. He sought to assure us that more grants would be available to farmers to mitigate agricultural pollution, which is by far the greatest source of problems for Herefordshire rivers.

Well, forgive me if I’m cynical. In my wanderings I see many new hedges planted with grants but with virtually no official oversight these are soon allowed to go to ruin or are illegally planted with conifers. The result is the grant is trousered by the farmer but there is no public benefit. This is just one example of the misuse of public funds spent subsidising farmers to carry out environmental improvements and is why I have no confidence that the new environmental land management scheme will be effective.

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It should also be pointed out that, whilst housing is a relatively small contributor to river pollution, it is the marginal increase in pollutants that really causes the problems, tipping rivers from just about okay to becoming unsuitable for many types of wildlife. So to say that the proposal won’t make any significant difference is wrong. Still, what better can we expect?

Steve Davies