Anglers Against Pollution

The River Wye Action Plan: A small step when big strides are needed.

The government’s £35 million action plan for the River Wye is small compensation for the size of the task needed to clean up this majestic river that flows from the hills of mid-Wales to the Bristol Channel. The plan, announced by Defra on the 12th of April, shows a complete lack of coordination with their Welsh counterparts.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns, at the Angling Trust, said,

“To come forward with a plan that only focuses on Herefordshire is both shortsighted and a major failure by Defra. The Wye is an iconic cross-border river that has recently been downgraded by Natural England to being a river that is ‘unfavourable declining’ from a river that was considered to be recovering. The cause of the decline stems from harmful actions on both sides of the border.

If both the UK and Welsh governments were serious about sorting out the Wye’s many problems, they should be coming together to ensure proper investment and proper enforcement of the regulations. It is evident both have been ignored for years. Appointing a ‘River Champion’ for just the English stretch of the river is nothing more than a PR stunt and shows the government is not serious about cleaning up the Wye. Anglers have witnessed the decline in the river in recent years. The plan put forward by Defra only seeks to halt the river’s decline when what is needed is a significant investment in its recovery. Anglers will not be fooled by this wholly inadequate response from the government.”


Penny Gane, Head of Practice at Fish Legal, commented,

“The fact that the Wye is a cross-border river barely gets a mention in Defra’s plan. Yet algal blooms starting high up in the catchment should give some indication that the pollution doesn’t start in Herefordshire. Fish Legal has been battling against Powys planners who – until we took them to court over further expansion of poultry production near Builth – were granting permission for poultry units without looking at where the resultant digestate would be spread. We’ve also referred Natural Resources Wales to the interim Environmental Protection Assessor for Wales for not delivering on its monitoring, assessment and investigation of pollution of the River Wye in accordance with environmental law in Wales. There has been, and continues to be, gaps in regulation and oversight by the authorities in Wales when it comes to protecting the Wye. The grown-up approach here would have been for Defra to produce a joint action plan for the Wye with the Welsh Government. This isn’t a comprehensive plan, if for no other reason than it fails to acknowledge that responsibilities to protect the Wye in Wales are largely devolved.

About Angling Trust, The Angling Trust is the national representative body for angling in England, working to protect and improve the water environment for the benefit of all anglers. The Angling Trust has been campaigning for cleaner waterways since 1948 and our campaign, Anglers Against Pollution, seeks to give anglers a voice in the fight for a better future for our environment by holding the Government to account for its promises, its actions, and its responsibilities.


Fish Legal was set up by enlightened anglers over 70 years ago to fight pollution and environmental damage. They are a membership organisation that works for and on behalf of its member angling clubs, fisheries, and riparians and does not work for profit. With a membership network of 1000+ angling clubs and fisheries throughout the UK, their dedicated team of environmental lawyers specialise in bringing civil actions against polluters and challenging decisions made by the government, local authorities, and other public bodies that threaten fish and the water environment. Fish Legal is united in a collaborative relationship with The Angling Trust

For further information, contact: [email protected] / Tel: 07301245168


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