Herefordshire Council’s Cabinet have approved the establishment of a new Cabinet Commission on Restoring the Wye.

The Council has taken a lead role in efforts to support the restoration of the Wye, working through the Nutrient Management Board and investing in a significant national influencing role to progress river restoration.

In January 2022 Council voted unanimously for a Water Protection Zone. Unfortunately this call was rejected by Minister Pow, Secretary of State, DEFRA.

A Cabinet Commission is therefore proposed to undertake a more strategic and systems led review of river quality and in particular to consider how Herefordshire Council can use all the powers and influence available to it to progress the restoration of the Wye and Lugg.

Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “The Council has been leading this fight, and following a unanimous Council vote, we requested the introduction of a Water Protection Zone covering the River Wye. This was rejected by Government, so we are now proposing the establishment of a Cabinet Commission on Restoring the Wye, which will not only gather the evidence required for a Water Protection Zone but will seek to work as quickly as possible to consult and identify practical options to making a long term difference to the Wye and Lugg.”

In a world-first, the council is creating a number of Integrated Wetlands specifically for the purpose of removing phosphates before they reach our rivers, which will enable the damaging ban on development in some areas to be lifted.

The new Phosphate Credits system will allow developers to buy credits generated by the operation of the wetlands to offset the phosphates that their new developments will create. In this way it is possible to ensure that the overall effect of new development is what’s called ‘nutrient neutral’, similar to the way companies can offset their carbon footprints by planting trees or sponsoring carbon negative projects.

Trading in Phosphate Credits will commence this month (August 2022) and will increase as further Wetlands arrive on stream. Credits will be allocated on the agreed first come first served policy.

Cllr David Hitchiner added: “Excellent progress has been made on our pioneering Integrated Wetlands Scheme. For the first time anywhere in the world, Wetlands sites will remove phosphate pollution from waste water before it reaches our rivers, and thanks to the Credits scheme, developers will be able to purchase credits to offset the impact of their development. Not only will this mean an end to the damaging and frustrating ban on development in certain areas, but also that new developments will be ‘nutrient neutral’.

“This is just one example of the practical steps we are taking to restore Herefordshire’s rivers.”

More information is available in the meeting agenda.

Published: 8th August 2022