Environment Minister’s decision “incentivises the pollution of the River Wye”

Responding to the decisions by the outgoing Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, to refuse the request from Herefordshire Council to introduce a Water Protection Zone (WPZ) for the River Wye, the Angling Trust is calling on Defra to think again.


Jamie Cook, CEO at the Angling Trust, said, “With the Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow resigning from the government, as part of the political upheavals we have witnessed in the past week, it is desperately disappointing that one of the last decisions she took as a minister was to condemn the River Wye to further degradation by refusing to allow for greater protection and increased action to save one of Britain’s most important and iconic rivers. The Wye has been plagued by increasing amounts of pollutions from intensive agriculture, this pollution from intensive poultry farming is, without exaggeration, killing the river.

“Both the Environment Agency and Natural Resource Wales have consistently failed in their duty to protect the river. Introducing a WPZ would have helped to change that. It would have led to a greater focus, more resources, and more action. Rather than showing the leadership needed, Pow and her department have chosen to side with the polluters. As a new caretaker government takes over, we call on Defra to think again.”


In rejecting the proposal by Herefordshire Council, Minister Pow, stated she did not to intend to impose, “additional regulatory burdens”. The Angling Trust disputes this interpretation.


Stuart Singleton- White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust, said, “Those farmers who are already following regulations, such as the farming rules for water, and who are already being responsible by managing their farms well, would have nothing to fear from the creation of a WPZ. In fact, what Rebecca Pow has done in taking this decision is to continue to support a perverse incentive. It is farmers who go to the effort of obeying the existing rules who are the ones being penalised. Those who ignore the rules and are allowed to get away with it, are therefore incentivised to pollute. Introducing an WPZ would have helped to change that.”


He added: “Only recently the Environment Agency has been awarded extra funding to increase the number of farm inspectors. This was welcomed by the Angling Trust. But Defra themselves were then recently forced to reverse a decision to allow farmers to spread manure at the wrong time of year and now they are standing in the way of additional measures to protect the River Wye, it sometimes feels as if they are giving with one hand and taking away with the other.”

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