Responsibility for a scheme to address pollution in the river Wye should be “removed” from Herefordshire Council, North Herefordshire MP Sir Bill Wiggin has said.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons yesterday (March 29), Sir Bill accused the county’s “bypass-hating” ruling coalition of failing to back “proven technology” to address the river's pollution problem.

He appeared to back a controversial bid to process waste from the county’s chicken farms at a planned new anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, which county planners have yet to decide on.

“Phosphates leaching into the River Wye could be stopped by proven phosphate-stripping technology attached to anaerobic digesters,” he said.


“But Herefordshire Council’s bypass-hating Green and Independent group will not support or engage, despite a moratorium on house building.

“What can the Deputy Prime Minister do to save our river and remove from the council such a vital strategic and environmental responsibility?”

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab replied: “The River Wye is obviously of huge importance to nature. We are taking action to tackle pollution and raise farming standards.


“My honourable Friend will know about the Environment Agency’s farm inspection capacity and catchment-sensitive farming advice programme; I defer to his technical knowledge in this area.

“I am sure he will want to make submissions to the local authority.”

The proposed AD unit at Whitwick Manor near Ledbury drew over 120 objections before public consultation closed last November. Herefordshire Council has set itself a target date of March 31 (tomorrow) to decide the proposal.

It is intended to rurn phosphate-rich chicken manure, which would otherwise be used as fertiliser on local fields, potentially leaching into rivers, into a feedstuff to generate electricity.

But opponents of the scheme claim it is untested technology that would bring environmental risks of its own.

Charles Watson, chairman of campaign group River Action UK, accused Sir Bill of “trying to score cheap political points” with a “farcical” question.

“The notion that the Wye’s pollution is solved by attaching P [phosphorus] stripping to anaerobic digesters = total ignorance of the crisis facing the river,” he Tweeted.

The Greens/Independents for Herefordshire coalition have been approached for comment.

Ledbury Reporter: