Requests for a meeting to discuss the health of the River Wye and the River Usk from Brecon and Radnorshire’s Member of Parliament and Member of the Senedd have been turned down by the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change.
After a lengthy discussions with colleagues in Herefordshire about the condition of the rivers, Fay Jones MP and James Evans MS wrote to both the UK and Welsh environment ministers asking for a roundtable meeting of all interested Welsh and English parties – including Natural Resource Wales, Natural England, the Environment Agency, Powys County Council, Herefordshire County Council, Monmouth County council, the Brecon Beacons National Park, Dwr Cymru and the National Farmers Union.
Mrs Pow readily agreed the idea however, Julie James, Minister for Climate Change in the Welsh Government refused to take part – claiming there was “no value” in the suggestion. In her reply, Ms James repeated her view that farmers are to blame for water pollution in the rivers and criticised the Brecon and Radnor pair for opposing controversial Nitrate Vulnerable Zone rules.
Fay Jones MP said:
“For over eighteen months, the health of the rivers in my constituency has been the biggest issue in my inbox. Everyone is agreed that the current situation is unacceptable – farmers and businesses are unable to expand, residents are prevented from extending their homes and house builders are being denied planning permission for the new homes we so badly need. All the while, a precious natural ecosystem continues to be put at risk.
The River Wye runs from Wales to England and back again. So it is imperative we tackle this challenge between the two countries. Sadly, it looks as though we can only rely on Westminster leaders to help us.”
James Evans MS described the move as “an appalling dereliction of duty.” He continued
“Yet again, we see that the Labour Party just does not care about rural Wales. We asked for this meeting to get a consensus as to how proceed but instead the Minister fobbed us off – wrongly blaming local farmers once again.
If she would actually come and see what life is like for us here – and venture out of her cosy Cardiff cocoon – she would see this problem first-hand and the damage her government’s inaction is doing to constituents here.”
Ms Jones added:
“Neither James nor I will give up on this issue. It is too important for our constituents.
I am really glad that the UK Government environment minister has agreed to chair a meeting. I hope we will be able to learn from parts of the UK where this is issue is being tackled aggressively. Perhaps this kind of genuine environmental leadership will shame the Welsh Government into action.”