A COALITION of river guardians along the Wye have co-created a manifesto for the waterway.

The Save The Wye group along with the Herefordshire Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the Wye Salmon Association and the Wildlife Trusts in Herefordshire Radnorshire have outlined key actions required to restore the river to health.

The authors of the manifesto have criticised the government’s recent ‘River Wye Action Plan’ for failing to tackle the pollution of the Wye, and put forward their own people-powered plan.

The River Wye is increasingly plagued by algal blooms and has lost much of its water crowfoot, which used to carpet the river and provide habitat and food for other species.

Last year the official status of the River Wye was downgraded by Natural England to ‘Unfavourable, declining’. Urgent action must be taken to prevent further decline, which requires stopping pollution and tackling legacy nutrients in the soils.

Former Environment Agency area manager Dave Throup said: “It’s the only answer. It’s been ten years and millions of pounds has been spent on pursuing all existing voluntary measures, and, they haven’t and won’t work.”

Last month, Defra published its River Wye Action Plan. But it was written with scarce consultation with local groups and experts.

The Wye Catchment Nutrient Management Board has expressed its concern that Defra didn’t consult it or the Wye Catchment Partnership. Nor did Defra reach out to any of the dedicated citizen science groups, which know the river intimately.

David Gillam from Save the Wye said: “The government’s ‘Action Plan’ is really an ‘Inaction Plan’. It falls far short of what is required to stop the pollution of the River Wye, let alone restore it to health.

Christine Hugh-Jones from Friends of the River Wye said: “We are astonished that the long-overdue government plan for the Wye only applies to England, neglecting much of the river. We’re calling for Defra to work with the Welsh Government to tackle the pollution on the River Wye.