This Council urges the executive to press/engage with both the EA and NRW, consulting Powys and Monmouthshire CCs and other interested parties as necessary, to press for nothing less than a Water Protection Zone (WPZ) for the whole of the River Wye system.
This council notes
Our rivers are under attack:
- 45,000 fish dead from a pollution incident in the River Llynfi – a Wye tributary – and NRW unable to bring a prosecution against those responsible
- raw sewage continues to pour in to our rivers unchecked with the Government failing to provide strong and consistent leadership on it
- intense agricultural practices continue to expand with the impact of excessive phosphates and nitrates leaching through the soil in to our rivers
- the EA remains thinly spread and unable to cope with the challenge it faces here.
What should the Council do:
- put polluters on notice that we are serious about enabling effective action to be taken against their practices
- build on our previous Council motion to investigate bathing status for our rivers – a good start but not a complete answer
- push for a comprehensive regulatory framework for the medium term that would envelop our river systems in a protective cloak and give the EA and NRW real teeth to enforce it.
So this Council urges the executive to press/engage with both the EA and NRW, consulting Powys and Monmouthshire CCs and other interested parties as necessary, to press for nothing less than a Water Protection Zone (WPZ) for the whole of the River Wye system. This should include pushing both Agencies for work to start asap on detailed modelling to demonstrate the need for a WPZ, in order to put a business case to DEFRA; Also for funding for this work to go ahead; And for the Executive to provide regular reports to Council on progress.
Background information to motion - Water Protection Zone for River Wye System
Under the EU Water Framework Directive, member states are obliged to take action to bring surface and groundwater within their territory into good condition, also known as achieving ‘good status’. This is assessed against a number of targets, including chemical status and ecological status. This was kept in UK law after Brexit. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has powers to establish a Water Protection Zone (WPZ) and set out the restrictions that apply in that area. The Environment Agency is then responsible for regulating the WPZ. WPZs work by prohibiting, or imposing conditions on, specific activities which are thought to be causing pollution in the area concerned. The activities in question may not otherwise be subject to any regulation, or the WPZ may impose tighter restrictions than any existing regulations.
These restrictions are backed up by criminal penalties, thereby providing additional legal powers to deal with activities which are believed to be causing pollution.
The exact restrictions which are to be imposed through the WPZ will vary because they will be tailored to fit the local circumstances; so a WPZ in one area may look very different to a WPZ in another because the sources of the pollution, and potentially also the nutrients involved, may be very different.