‘Round table’ meeting to tackle future of the River Wye
A “round table” discussion on pollution was held this week, seeking to bring together various stakeholders to find ways to save the River Wye.
The meeting was organised and chaired by Jane Dodds, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd Member for Mid & West Wales.
Contributing to the meeting were various participants including representatives from political parties and organisations with a stake in the future of the river.
Recognising the complexity of the issues facing the river, a multi-agency, cross-organisation and cross-party approach was agreed upon to work collaboratively and establish effective communication between the stakeholders.
In attendance were the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW), NFU Cymru, Dŵr Cymru, Friends of the Upper Wye, Conservative MSs James Evans and Russell George as well as members of the public.
In February, environmental groups warned that the river Wye will be in irreversibly worse condition within two years unless environmental bodies in Wales and England act and both Westminster and the Welsh parliament stump up the cash to save it, politicians and regulators have been warned.
This followed a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) study which found more than 60 per cent of the Wye and its catchments fail against targets for phosphate levels.
Chicken manure spread on surrounding fields is believed to contribute to the high levels of phosphate in particular entering the river, leading to periodic algal blooms which harm fish and other wildlife.
Phosphorus pollution causes excessive growth of algae, which smothers and blocks out light for other aquatic plants and animals. Additionally repeated storms have damaged the content of useful plants and riverlife.
The river runs through Wales and England and forms the border between them for 16 miles and there have been numerous criticisms from both sides of the border about agencies, local government and politicians not working together to tackle the issues.
Commenting Jane Dodds said: “The Wye is a national treasure and living in Hay-on-Wye I am reminded of our duty to protect it every single day.
“It has been clear for some time now that the causes behind pollution in the Wye are extremely complex and not easily attributed to any single actor. What has been really useful about our meeting was the ability to get so many of the stakeholders in one place talking to each other.
“I felt there was a real recognition on all sides of the need for us to work together going forward and for stakeholders to keep the community informed of the progress that is being made.
“I will personally be using every lever available to me as Senedd Member to continue to pressure the Welsh Labour Government to properly fund Natural Resources Wales and to give the guidance and assistance needed to save our River.”
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