Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey visited Herefordshire today to meet with the farming community, representatives of the Herefordshire Council, Natural England, Environment Agency, the Welsh Government, local partners and environmental groups, to discuss the environmental challenges being faced across the River Wye Catchment and the region.

Joined by her ministerial and local parliamentary colleagues, Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP and Bill Wiggins MP, there was a keenness to review actions already underway in tackling the issues surrounding the decline of the River Wye and address the challenges of restoration of the ecological balance within Herefordshire.

The meeting was also joined by Fay Jones MP, Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Powys and Monmouthshire Councils representing Welsh interests.

The Leader of Herefordshire Council, Cllr Jonathan Lester welcomed the visit of the Secretary of State saying;

“We are very pleased the Secretary of State has joined us to discuss the very pressing issues we’re experiencing in Herefordshire. As a new administration we are delighted that she is giving us her full attention as we continue to plan and implement new measures to tackle the degradation of the River Wye Catchment, and restore the health of our rivers and waterways.

“Needless to say, we are disappointed that the status of the River Wye has been reclassified from ‘unfavourable recovering’ to ‘unfavourable declining’, and are not surprised given the feedback from ongoing monitoring. Therefore, we really welcome and value the long-term support from the UK Government as we strive to find the right answers and do more in developing the necessary measures in stopping any further degradation, and start to restore the Wye to a sustainable healthy state.   

“Already, Herefordshire is drawing on the foremost expertise in finding solutions that improve biodiversity and create solutions that restore the health of our rivers, and build a more sustainable dynamic between the demand for farming productivity and environmental restoration.

“We continue to lead and work with our national partners in Natural England and the Environment Agency, and collaborate with the Welsh Government and neighbouring councils in Wales, local partners, our farming and business communities to implement the long-term solutions that will deliver both a sustainable economy and a restored natural environment.”