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River Wye: Phosphates

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 185296, tabled on 21 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle phosphate pollution in the River Wye.

Answered on

26 April 2021

Defra is committed to improving our water environment and reducing the impact of excess nutrients, including on the River Wye.

Natural England, the Environment Agency and other partners, including Natural Resources Wales, have been working together through a Nutrient Management Board to find effective solutions and document these through an action plan which is currently being drafted. This will identify measures needed to both restore the site to favourable condition and seek to create capacity for development, without harming the natural environment.

Additionally, since 2016 the Environment Agency has been undertaking a significant amount of agricultural compliance and regulatory activity using satellite technology to identify and target locations at high risk of contributing to nutrient and soil pollution. This has been backed up by an extensive programme of advisory and support work delivered by Catchment Sensitive Farming and catchment partners such as the Wye and Usk Foundation and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust to improve agriculture sources of pollution to the River Wye.

Furthermore, there is work underway to tackle phosphate pollution from waste water treatment in the River Wye through catchment partnerships. The Nutrient Management Board, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and the recently announced Storm Overflows Task Force will seek to make further improvements in this space.

I accept that there is more to be done. As this is a devolved matter I, and officials in my department, remain engaged with our Welsh counterparts to align efforts on cross-border pollution issues and monitor progress closely.

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