HEREFORDSHIRE Council leaders say they will review their own planning processes and clampdown on those who mishandle farm waste in a bid to improve the ecological health of local rivers.

Councillor Jeremy Milln said monitoring data showed the ecological health of local rivers has had a steep decline due to diffuse phosphate nutrification from intensive stock rearing in the upper river catchments.

Sewage discharge and soil degradation due to poor arable practices in areas prone to flooding is also contributory.

A total of 125 intensive poultry units have been approved in Powys since 2015 with another 27 awaiting determination and more in the planning pipeline.

“I’ve no doubt the administration’s concern accurately reflects that of the people of Herefordshire and those who have lobbied me in numbers, alarmed with the deteriorating condition of our rivers,” coun Milln told a recent cabinet meeting.

“Beefing up the Nutrient Management Plan is a welcome step and while it is easy to point the finger at Powys and its performance with regard to the intensive poultry units it has allowed to proliferate.

“Can I have his assurance that we will use all the tools at our disposal through government and the national government agencies, to bring our own house in order by, where necessary, revision of our planning process and by acting against those whose practices damage aquatic environments such as through poor handling of farm waste or soil loss?

He said the February floods showed how vulnerable the county is.

Infrastructure and transport cabinet member John Harrington replied: “Yes and there is much we can still do within our own power and I welcome continued involvement at any stage.”