The very concerning state of Herefordshire’s rivers

Herefordshire Green Party, including our seven councillors, are hugely concerned to protect our precious river ecosystems from phosphate pollution from the increasing numbers of intensive stock rearing units being approved in the countryside. This has had a particularly grievous impact for Herefordshire, the majority of which is in the catchment of the iconic River Wye, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under European legislation.

On 6th June, Greens on the Planning Committee voted against such an application at Bage Court Farm at Dorstone. However the application was passed by a majority of members. This has led local campaigners, believing there were flaws in the advice given by officers, to challenge the decision through the High Court. In particular, campaigners wish to test whether a full Habitat Regulations Assessment should have been conducted.

For many years, Green councillor Felicity Norman has campaigned for a stronger regulatory system amid evidence of ecosystem collapse along the rivers Lugg and Wye. That both rivers should deteriorate so sharply, despite a Nutrient Management Plan tasked with protecting the River Wye SAC, is extremely worrying.

Green councillors are pushing for stronger local policy on intensive farming consistent with our declaration of a Climate and Ecological Emergency. We have formally requested urgent development of a supplementary planning document (SPD) on this issue to give much greater weight to environmental protection. We are also strongly urging other regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency to use their existing powers to control watercourse pollution.

As Greens, we are frustrated by the limitations of national planning policy and the exercise of local control over development. Better alignment of our local planning policies to the needs of society and the environment is one of our key priorities. We are doing everything we can – alongside our coalition partners as well as committed colleagues from other political groups – to achieve that. We are working our socks off to translate this intention into concrete changes to policy and practice. We know that protecting our environment makes good economic sense and will enable communities in our county to thrive. We really value the support and activism of local residents as we strive for a better, fairer, greener Herefordshire.

One comment

  1. I’m really glad that Hereford Greens are tackling this issue. I’m a member of both the local Wildlife TRust and HOC (the bird club), and as such, watched a talk from Professor Steve Ormerod on river pollution and its effects on birdlife in particular, but as with many things, it’s the micro-organisms that suffer first. I’m also a river swimmer, and my concern is also for our health and enjoyment as river-users, especially as more people are discovering the delights & benefits of this activity. I wonder what your position is on the High Court challenge. Sadly, my previous experience with Herefordshire Council planning decisions makes me strongly suspect the influence of the farming lobby on this decision, over-riding other interests. And taking care of our environment is not an ‘interest’, it’s an essential for life of any sort on this planet to contiue.

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