TV stars wade into debate over Wye

Tuesday 21st June 2022 5:45 am

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TV stars Stephen Fry and Monty Don have waded into the River Wye pollution debate, slamming the damage to its eco-system.

Linking to an article on the river in last Friday’s Guardian by environmental journalist George Monbiot, author and broadcaster Fry told his 12.4 million Twitter followers: “Wye oh Wye – read and weep.”

Meanwhile, Gardeners’ World presenter and Herefordshire resident Don, also retweeting the piece, wrote: “It is appalling that this is condoned. It has to stop.

“Factory farming is turning this beautiful British river into an open sewer.”

They are not the first celebrities to weigh in on the Wye, with former pop star and keen angler Feargal Sharkey backing a catchment-wide plan to ‘Save the Wye’ by environmental group River Action.

Its plan launched in February called for a halt to the creation of any new intensive agricultural units, and the installation of mandatory “river buffers” to separate water courses and agriculture.

Sharkey said: “I wholeheartedly commend the plan being launched by River Action.

“This critically important initiative must be implemented with immediate effect – no ifs, no buts.

“Quite frankly, it’s a scandal that the actions being put forward today were not implemented by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales when the nutrient crisis of the river first manifested itself.”

However, giant new poultry applications are still being considered, with consultation on the latest bid to create a 215,000-bird intensive chicken unit in Herefordshire, in Lower Hergest by the River Arrow, ending this week.

In the Guardian article, Monbiot argued that the Wye “is on the brink” due to pollution from the large numbers of chicken “factories” now operating upriver in Herefordshire and Powys.

The £1m-a-year profits these can generate “might help to explain the intimidation and vandalism reported to me by some of the local people who object to them”, Monbiot writes.

One such local quoted in the piece fears that “someone’s going to get firebombed or shot” as a consequence.

Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman, whose constituency includes the Wye from Hereford to below Symonds Yat last week called on Parliament for a national recovery fund for rivers, funded by fines on polluters.

An “all-river strategy… might be a solution to the Wye’s problems”, he suggested.


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