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New strategy agreed on reducing river pollution

20 Mar 2023 3 minute read
‘River Wye at Monmouth’ by imaginedhorizons is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0. Right, Mark Drakeford.

A new strategy to reduce river pollution in Wales has been agreed following a summit led by the First Minister earlier this month.

The summit, held in Cardiff on March 8, brought together senior representatives from regulators, water companies, developers, local government, farming unions, academia and environmental sectors.

The aim was to develop a “strategic, joined-up approach to tackling phosphorus pollution” and resulted in all participants agreeing to implement a new action plan.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We said we would bring people together and we brought people together; we said we would develop an action plan and we have developed an action plan – we are a government committed to our rivers.

“At this year’s summit, we discussed the need to be able to move at speed and accelerate actions, to strip away any unnecessary complexity and provide certainty and consistent messaging across the range of different challenges.

“We need to bring forward, quickly, mitigation measures to create headroom to support sustainable development now whilst also securing the longer-term investment to restore our rivers.”

The key themes of the action plan are:

The need for a joined-up approach and the need for fit for purpose governance and oversight arrangements to support decision making in failing SAC rivers;

The need to use natural solutions more effectively in order to deliver multiple benefits;

The need to work constructively with the agriculture sector to find solutions to reduce and address excess nutrients in the soil and SAC rivers of Wales;

Delivering short term solutions to address current planning constraints;

Development of a unified nutrient calculator to directly aid planning decisions on nutrient neutrality which will have the ability to take account of catchment-level data, local features and needs;

Provide clarity to stakeholders on the suitability of potential mitigation actions and interventions to reduce pollution;

A unified approach to catchment consenting in failing SAC rivers; and

increasing our understanding of practical measures within catchments which could be provided by Nutrient Trading.

The First Minister added: “I am confident that delivering the actions identified will allow housing development in the affected SAC river catchments to restart.

“There is no single measure which will solve this problem and even a contribution of measures will take time to undo the cumulative harm of the past.

“Across the Welsh Government we are committed to improving the quality of our rivers across Wales and the River Basin Management plans, published last year, outline the actions required to allow our rivers to thrive.

“Although there have been improvements, we need to take an integrated catchment approach focussing on multi-sector co-operation and nature-based solutions to drive water quality improvements.

“Only by combining the actions of every sector can we tackle multiple risks impacting our lakes, rivers and streams and deliver real improvements to the quality of our waterways.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the summit – we all have a role to play in improving the quality of water in our rivers and reducing phosphorus pollution.”


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Richard 1
Richard 1
11 months ago

Give up eating meat – something we could all do to take responsibility

Richard 1
Richard 1
11 months ago
Reply to  Richard 1

I see a dead bird roasted straight under my own post! Whose idea was that ?

Gaynor Jones
Gaynor Jones
11 months ago

Can we have some action NOW …. Welsh Labour is full of consultations and strategies that lead nowhere. The problem is dire

Gareth plas
Gareth plas
11 months ago

I don’t understand why these responses and statements have to be so full of jargon and meaningless nonsense. I thought we had got over B.S. responses and were using plain language. Not so in Cardiff it seems.
nothing here really tells us what they are actually doing, and I suspect the answer is “ very little “

max wallis
max wallis
11 months ago

False spin – doing nothing about sewage in all rivers, only phosphorous in SAC rivers. “SAC” is Special Area of Conservation rivers – the Wye but nothing for most rivers like the Taff.
NRW is obliged under Habitats Reg. to protect SACs. Should they as a WGovt body be prosecuted for their failure?

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
11 months ago

Drakeford to the rescue. Next time I dump chemicals in the local river I can do it by permission of the Welsh Government, can I ? This has been going on for years and all the guilty people have been ignoring it. All the private water companies will be paying themselves big bonuses now….and we the public will have to pay…as always. We have to pay twice…once to cover suppliers profits which creates inflation and the second time to pay taxes to cover the inflation.

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