Save the Wye Catchment: An Appeal

by Residents of the Golden Valley

Save the Wye Catchment: An Appeal

by Residents of the Golden Valley
Residents of the Golden Valley
Case Owner
We are a group of concerned residents of the Golden Valley in Herefordshire. We are actively campaigning to protect our environment from pollution and poor decision making.
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Residents of the Golden Valley
Case Owner
We are a group of concerned residents of the Golden Valley in Herefordshire. We are actively campaigning to protect our environment from pollution and poor decision making.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Sept. 21, 2021

Grounds for Appeal Submitted

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your pledge and for supporting our case! We have reached our initial target and, as a result, have been able to begin our appeal process.

The grounds for the appeal were…

Read more

The beginning of our campaign 

Over 1200 generous people have already supported us in the first part of our campaign under the heading SOS: Save the River Wye.   This was so we could take Herefordshire Council to judicial review of a planning decision that stripped away protections from the River Dore and the Wye Catchment.

We now need to raise additional funds for the next stage of our campaign.  

Why we are fundraising again 

Unfortunately, the High Court judge finally published his long-awaited judgment on Wednesday 25 August 2021. He dismissed our case in the Judicial Review

Our legal team advises us that, on critical points, the judgement is flawed and is materially wrong in both fact and law. Remarkably the judge even writes: “If I am wrong. .” and then adds “The Court of Appeal will be in better position to determine” these points. 

In discussions with our advisors, we have decided as a group of local residents that we must appeal this judgment. We feel we have a moral obligation to continue, to represent all the people who have donated to the campaign so far because they care deeply about our river systems.

Unfortunately, the timescale for the appeal process is extremely tight. We must first ask the High Court for permission to appeal. We have barely two weeks, until 14th September, to prepare and make our submission.

How your contribution will help

Your kind contribution will help us to us to prepare our case for appeal as fully as possible. We need to raise £15k immediately and £35k to go all the way to an appeal.  We will leave no stone unturned in attempting to raise these funds but must rely on the generosity of everyone who cares about the state of our rivers to help us.

This case has national relevance. If we succeed at appeal, we will have ensured that planning decision makers in England and Wales cannot bypass the rules designed to protect sensitive natural systems from harm

Background to the case 

The original decision by Herefordshire Council decision failed to consider the environmental and ecological impacts of the development on the River Dore. The Dore, which is a tributary of the Monnow, is in the River Wye Special Area of Conservation (SAC) catchment. The rivers in the SAC are already severely ecologically stressed, in large part because of pollution from intensive poultry and livestock farming.

The legal case focused on the failure by the Council to undertake an assessment of the Bage Court development under the 'Habitats Regulations' (HRA) and, therefore, failing to protect the River Wye and its tributaries from further deterioration. The Council’s initial position was that no assessment was required because the site was not in the catchment of the River Wye. They acknowledged subsequently that they were wrong on this issue following our expert evidence to the Court. Part of our challenge was that the failure to undertake HRA assessments on all intensive agricultural developments within the catchment was wrong because it meant that on sites like this, there would be no assessment of the impact of manure run-off into the water courses and, inevitably, these developments will contribute to the worsening of pollution. 

The judgment ignores advice from our expert ecologists and hydrologists but takes at face value and ‘is in no doubt’ that the Council’s had made ‘detailed’ inquiries with Natural England regarding the risks posed by this development to the River Dore within the River Wye Sac. In fact, all that the Council did was to search Natural England’s Impact Risk Zone (IRZ) data on the internet to conclude, wrongly, that the River Dore is not in the Wye SAC. Alarmingly for the purposes of open democracy, ‘owing to the sensitive nature of the County of Herefordshire’, the data utilised by the Council is not available to the concerned public.

This judgment is of extreme importance nationally. The Court has effectively told Herefordshire Council, and by extension all other rural councils, that there is no need to carry out Habitats Regulations Assessment of livestock developments - even though we know that intensive livestock development is one of the main causes of the pollution of our rivers.  It opens the door for developments to be approved through the planning process without the necessary environmental checks and balances. It will be far reaching at a time when our rivers – like the Wye - are under massive pressure from pollution. They are dying, as confirmed by many public bodies. The degradation of our rivers is starkly revealed in the recent Rivercide documentary, yet no coordinated responsibility is being taken for protecting them.

Please help us go to the appeal Court to win protection for our precious and vulnerable river systems.

The Judgment is Case no CO/2511/2020.

Many thanks for your help once again.


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Update 1

Residents of the Golden Valley

Sept. 21, 2021

Grounds for Appeal Submitted

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your pledge and for supporting our case! We have reached our initial target and, as a result, have been able to begin our appeal process.

The grounds for the appeal were lodged with the High Court on September 14th and we are waiting now to hear if we will be given permission to proceed.  The recent disastrous and erroneous judgment has, ironically, ensured that this case now has national significance. We have received support publicly and privately from many individuals and bodies who are alarmed that, in the context of mounting concern about the health of the Wye catchment, this judgement weakens the regulatory framework designed to protect it.

These concerns are well-founded.  Residents of the Golden Valley have established the River Dore Citizen Science Project, in partnership with the Wye Salmon Association, to test the waters on the River Dore and its tributaries. The photo below shows that readings at one of the testing sites (21st September) showed levels of phosphates which are over 20x normal levels. Agricultural runoff is a major contributor to this pollution.  We must find a way to manage this better to protect the health of our rivers.  This cannot be done by trashing the regulatory framework and eroding the powers and duties of statutory agencies. This is why we are taking legal action.

We are determined to press on and are now fundraising to reach our stretch target, which we will need to take the case all the way through the appeal. We hope we can continue to count on your continued support.

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