Agenda and minutes

Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Simon Cann, Democratic Services Officer 

Link: Watch this meeting live on the Herefordshire Council Youtube Channel

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.



No apologies were received.


Named substitutes

To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.


There were no named substitutes.


Declarations of interest

To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 328 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2023 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 320 KB

To receive any written questions from members of the public.


See Appendix 1 – Questions from members of the public.


Questions from members of the council

To receive any written questions from members of the council.


There were no questions received from Councillors.


River Water Pollution pdf icon PDF 416 KB

This report presents information for the committee to consider regarding the factors contributing to the pollution of rivers and watercourses, the roles and responsibilities of lead agencies and a summary of the council’s duties and powers to support the lead agencies to address river pollution.


Additional documents:


The Chair gave a brief introduction and overview of the report and suggested the discussion be broken down by structuring it around the four objectives listed in the work programme for the item:


·         Understand the factors contributing to the pollution of rivers and watercourses.

·         Examine the council’s duties and powers to address river pollution.

·         Scrutinise how the council fulfils its duties and exercises its powers.

·         Identify key partners and their roles and responsibilities

The Cabinet Member for the environment warned of oversimplifying the source of the pollution and focusing on just one of the causes of what was a complex and multi-faceted problem.


It was explained that when discussing phosphate it was important to consider the ecological impact on the river. Algal blooms were triggered by temperature, low flow, sunlight and nutrients.


Phosphate was not the only substance contributing to nutrient imbalance - ammonia and PFAS (Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances) were also factors, but the focus of the committee’s discussion would be phosphate.


The cabinet member explained that phosphate was required for life and to make things grow, but that it had got out of balance and as covered in the RePhoKUs report phosphate levels had adversely impacted the nutrient balance in the catchment area, with a 3,000 tonne excess of Phosphate in the area.


The complexity of the problem was demonstrated by the numerous contributing factors including: run off, land drains, sewage treatment, detergents, soil health and peak flow of the river in response to rainfall.


The committee referred to the RePhoKUs report’s comments regarding phosphate getting into the subsoil and how that would potentially be a long-term problem with no short term fix.


The committee asked the cabinet member if they felt there were any gaps in the evidence.


The Cabinet Member noted that there was a lot of information on accumulation and legacy phosphate, but that robust data on total phosphorous and the impact it was having would be useful.


It was also noted that the use of soluble reactive as a proxy worked in relation to sewage treatment works, but was not an effective proxy for land-based studies.

The Cabinet Member stressed that in order to deal with the accumulation of legacy phosphate, it would be necessary to work towards solutions, involving building a greater understanding of how the phosphate could be copped out to help get the soils balanced again.



The committee heard from the Chief Executive of the Wye and Usk Foundation, who stated that understanding drives action and pointed out that the problem was chronic as well as acute.


The chronic problem was fundamentally related to the fact that too much phosphorous was being applied to the catchment soil - this was predominantly due to the intensification of agriculture and the basic supply chain/logistical pressures of locating feed stock close to the factories - with manure/waste products from that increasing the soils in those areas.


The Chief Executive then explained that the acute problem was the mechanism by which the phosphorous was getting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


Executive response to recommendations on the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy Action Plan pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To note the Executive response to the 10 recommendations on the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy Action Plan made by the Environment and Sustainability Committee during its meeting on 18 November 2022.

Additional documents:


The Chair introduced the item and provided background information in relation to the recommendations made by the Committee and the responses received from the Executive.


The Chair explained that unless there were any questions from members, the focus would be on the responses to recommendations 5 and 6, which had been partially accepted.


Recommendation 5 and the Executive response to it were read out to the committee. The Chair invited the Directorate Services Team Leader for Economy and Environment to provide an update on the response.


It was explained that the reason for the recommendation being partially accepted was due to the potential impact of forthcoming national policy, but that the directorate was aware that policy elements specific to Herefordshire would need to be considered as part of the Local Plan. The team leader read out a statement that had been provided by the Strategic and Neighbourhood Planning Manager:


The draft local plan contains policies to ensure that the effects of climate change and flooding risks are recognised, considered and managed. Specific policies have been drafted to address these issues. These may need to be reviewed if a flood risk policy is included within the national development management policies, as part of the levelling up and regeneration bill and changes to the national planning policy framework, which are expected this autumn. The local plan is going to define the up-to-date extent of the land at risk of flooding, which may include sources of flooding other than the environment agency flood zones and this is the area where the national and local policy will apply. Strategic flood risk assessments both at county and site level will be important in this process and the strategic flood risk assessment part two is currently being commissioned.”


It was stated the Strategic and Neighbourhood Planning Manager’s work would be underpinned by the local flood risk strategy as well.


The committee understood that the local flood risk management strategy action plan needed to be used as an evidence base to inform the local plan, but it had concerns about the accuracy and reliability of EA (Environment Agency) flood mapping information.


The committee stated that it felt the EA’s flood mapping was out of date, too reliant on height above sea level data and contours, and didn’t give enough consideration to water coming in from higher grounds.


The committee also raised concerns about plans that focused solely on how to rush water through systems at the expense of considering other factors, such as how to slow down the arrival of water. It was felt that local knowledge was vital in shaping flood planning, but was not always available or included.


The committee voiced concerns about the EAs evidence base and over reliance on central government policy.


The Cabinet Member for the Environment stated that plans tended to focus on riparian/fluvial flooding rather than pluvial flooding. It was suggested that a systems thinking style approach would be helpful going forward. Plans should take a holistic approach and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 275 KB

To consider the work programme for the committee.


The committee discussed the work programme.






a)    The planned ‘Meeting net zero-carbon in Herefordshire’ item would be rescheduled from the 22 January 2024 meeting to the 25 March 2024 meeting of the committee and;


b)    The planned ‘Nutrient Management Board’ item would be rescheduled from the 25 March 2024 meeting to the 22 March 2024 meeting of the committee and;


c)    A briefing would be held on the Minerals and Waste Local Plan and;


d)    Members would conduct enquiries in relation to littering and public bins in their local area, findings would then then be shared and discussed at a future informal briefing and a decision taken as to whether or not to include the topic as a work programme item.



Date of the next meeting

Date of next meeting: Monday 27 November 2023 10.00 am


Monday 27 November 2023 10.00 am


Appendix 1 - Questions from members of the public



Ms Carol-Ann Banks, via email

Scrutiny Meeting:

ESSC Meeting 25 September 2023


Herefordshire Council would appear to be waging a war against private car ownership. The roads are narrowing, you are reducing parking spaces, forcing people into using public transport, spending £2m on electric buses powered by batteries which are anything but green all whilst aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to net zero as per the WEF Agenda30.



·       carbon dioxide is only 0.04% of the atmosphere

·       only 3% of the 0.04% is produced by cars

·       1.3% of the 3% is produced by manufacturing, cows passing wind and bush fires

·       Only 1% of the 3% is produced by the UK

·       China emits in one day the equivalent of the UK emissions in one year

·       There has been global COOLING over the last 8 years, despite 450 billion tons of emissions, which is 14% of total human manufacturing CO2. (Part of the 1.3% of the 3% of the 0.04%).


(the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA))


Looking at the science:


A mature tree will absorb 21.77 kg of carbon dioxide per year. This doesn’t include other plant life.

The area of woodland in the UK at 31 March 2023 is estimated to be 3.25 million hectares.  This represents 13% of the total land area in the UK.

Woodland Carbon Code projects in the UK that were validated (including those that were also verified) at 31 March 2023 were predicted to sequester a total of 8.5 million tons of carbon dioxide over their lifetime of up to 100 years.




Question: So why are we trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

If carbon dioxide levels fall to 0.02% ALL life will cease to exist.



·       The Council is committed to providing residents with a transport network that supports all transport modes, enabling safe and sustainable travel choices for residents.


·       The Council is also committed to leading a local response to the Climate & Ecological Emergency, which was recently reaffirmed by unanimous vote at Full Council on the 28th July.


·       Here we have set targets, and are making good progress to achieve:


-   carbon neutrality across the Council’s own emissions by 2030

-   and we are working with partners, businesses, communities and residents to achieve this countywide.


·         The importance of this commitment is reiterated within the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), who are the internationally accepted authority on climate change. Some headlines statements from this report include:


-   Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850–1900 in 2011–2020.

-   Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.

-   Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.

-   This has led to widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people.

-   Continued greenhouse gas emissions will lead to increasing global warming, with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.