“This is the Environment Bill and not a housebuilding Bill therefore the amendment I tabled had to be relative to be considered but I have not changed my enthusiasm for the environment.
It is my hope that by tabling this amendment, it will give me the chance to voice the concerns of constituents in the House of Commons and to resolve this issue in a way that is suitable for us all.
The amendment to the Environment Bill relates to phosphates in the River Wye and the moratorium on housebuilding.
There are a number of reasons why I tabled this particular amendment and why it is was drafted by the officials in such a way in order for it to be selected.
Technically it will allow Herefordshire Council to lift its moratorium and resume housebuilding in the County but without regard to phosphates in the river.
This does not take into account the environmental impact that we all care about because the Bill next passes into the Report Stage and only an amendment such as the one I tabled could be added and it was not possible to include purely environmental issues.
The Government wants to build and wants to build in an environmentally responsible way.
As it stands, neither of these things are possible in our County owing to this moratorium.
This amendment gives me is the opportunity to speak in the House of Commons on the state of the River Wye and how blocking house building is proving ineffective.
When doing so, I will of course be making the case for more action to be taken in reducing phosphate pollution in the Wye.
I will not move the amendment and so there will not be a vote – in effect after my speech, I will withdraw it.
It must be remembered that by no means is the Wye the worst performing river in the country however it is still a serious issue that is not moving forward.
Herefordshire Council need to come up with an effective way to reduce residual phosphates and algae blooms in the River Wye as they grant the planning permission.
This also includes a tangible solution to address thirty year phosphate levels in the soil.
Simply blaming farmers is not sufficient.
The ‘polluter pays’ principle appears to have been forgotten by the Environment Agency and I therefore I look forward to raising this in the House.
We must stop blaming farmers and come up with practical solutions that are deliverable and immediate and I intend to keep raising this.”