Challenges and opportunities coming up – we look ahead to summer 22

By Dilys Merry
29th March 2022

At last we hope we can once again have public meetings and talk about all the issues that worry our community. Planning, housing, transport and pollution are but a few topics that increase the heart rate. And we know they’ll be in the news this summer.

As a charity that focuses on the countryside, landscape and the wellbeing that comes from both we have quite a task in front of us. We are waiting for a new Planning Bill and details of the Agriculture Bill including the Environmental Land Management Scheme from government. More locally, we are watching the development of a new Local Plan from Herefordshire Council.

All of this with a backdrop of climate change that seems to be almost forgotten after COP26. There is no doubt that we will all be feeling the squeeze on our pockets as the cost of living increases more than many folk will ever have seen before.

Our job will be to make sense of all the proposals and changes that impact on Herefordshire and rally against the bad but fight for the good. It’s tempting to see things as black or white choices. However this is unhelpful because compromise and accommodation is the only long-term approach. We need to work together on solutions no matter what the problems.

Solar & Wind Energy Generation

This is a topic that splits even the best of friends. Some hate wind farms and solar panels but others see them as saving our planet from destruction by fossil fuels. Of course, both are right. We do not want our valuable countryside eroded and spoilt by ever growing renewable energy impacts but we also understand that CO­­2 emissions will destroy much of our planet unless we act to reduce them.

Herefordshire has already attracted some large solar farm planning applications. As a result we are already forming up arguments and strategies on the subject.

Most agree that renewable energy is our only future. So we need to find the right way to generate electricity and at the same time use less. Survey after survey tells us we have the poorest housing stock in Europe. Our housing stock is not heat efficient so insulation has to be a major concern. That’s why we want the government to initiate and support a strong and long-term sustainable home insulation programme. We need to update building regulations, making sure we are building far better quality homes that need less energy to heat them.

New regulation should ensure that all new industrial buildings are fitted with solar panels -and new houses likewise. We do believe that wind and solar are good but only if they are put in the correct place.

This is why our first suggestion is to retrofit solar on all existing industrial buildings and brownfield sites. This move avoids intruding on and using perfectly good arable land. Landscape which generations have valued can so easily be destroyed. Community installations of renewables where all households benefit are also bound to be more appealing than one land owner reaping all the profit.

There is so much to discuss so we look forward to you joining us at some of our meetings. Watch this space for dates.

Talk Talk the River Wye

We are at a point where the pollution issues are beginning to be well known and so many groups are acting with campaigns, walks, protests, petitions, lobbying and positive data collection. Our MPs seem interested and are making their voices heard. Reports from agencies, regulators, councils and universities come forward daily and all are good news as they recognise and highlight  the problems of pollution. Some shine focused spotlights on the causes of pollution.

Time for urgent action

For more than eight years the cauldron of pollution has been slowly bubbling away. Now it looks as if it is about to boil over. The question is “Has the Talk Talk now finished and are the Government now charged up sufficiently to Walk the Walk?”

We sincerely hope so. There have been some fantastic reports from RePhoKus, the government’s Environmental Audit Committee, River Action, Wye Salmon Association, Wye & Usk Foundation and an array of Citizen Science monitoring. But the most damning evidence of all, the river itself is telling us the same thing – the River Wye catchment is dying. Let us now challenge the Government to act immediately.

Something you can do from the comfort of your own home…

Write to or email your MP to let them know your feelings on the River Wye. Tell them you support them in any actions they’ve taken so far and encourage them to keep working to save the health of our beautiful rivers.

North Herefordshire

Bill Wiggin MP officeofbillwigginmp@parliament.uk

8 Corn Square, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 8LR

Hereford and South Herefordshire

Jesse Norman MP https://jesse4hereford.com/contact

Suite 2A, Penn House, Broad Street, Hereford HR4 9AP

View of the cathedral, the Old Wye Bridge and the River Wye, Hereford
View of the cathedral, the Old Wye Bridge and the River Wye, Hereford