Innovation and collaboration key to improving water quality in Wales

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies MS and Sir David Henshaw, Chair of NRW were joined by colleagues from the Welsh Government, NRW, Ofwat and Dŵr Cymru, on a visit to the Teifi catchment.

Cabinet Secretary, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, has underlined the importance of partnership working and innovative thinking as Wales pursues its ambition to improve water quality in the Teifi catchment, during a visit to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) led projects in the area this week.  

Accompanied by NRW’s chairman, Sir David Henshaw, and partners from the Welsh Government, Ofwat and Dŵr Cymru, the new Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs visited the Teifi catchment to see some of the NRW initiatives already underway.

The development of the Teifi Demonstrator Catchment Project topped the agenda. The scheme aims to complement other existing initiatives to improve the Afon Teifi by working in partnership with others (currently 18 organisations) to enhance water quality, biodiversity and land management. 

Following a successful hackathon-style event attended by partners and stakeholders in February, the project team is currently developing a work programme while investigating further sources of funding to take the project into delivery.

Plans to tackle the legacy of Wales’ abandoned mines through the innovative metal mine remediation programme were also highlighted during a visit to the historic Abbey Consols metal mine.

The abandoned Abbey Consols metal mine is one of the highest priority sites for remediation in Wales. It contributes to tonnes of harmful metals entering the Afon Teifi each year, causing failure to achieve ‘Good’ Water Framework Directive (WFD) status for many kilometres downstream of the site.

NRW is working in partnership with the Welsh Government and the Coal Authority to jointly deliver the programme to prioritise and remediate metal mine pollution.

Also on the agenda was an introduction to NRW’s Four Rivers for LIFE and the LIFE Welsh Raised Bogs projects, with a guided walk through the Cors Caron National Nature Reserve.

The Afon Teifi Special Area of Conservation is one of the rivers already benefitting from the EU LIFE funded Four Rivers for LIFE project, which is using nature-based solutions to improve a total of 776km of river reaches in mid and south Wales. These interventions include riparian fencing and tree planting, tackling invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam and habitat improvements.

The LIFE Welsh raised bog project was the first national restoration programme for raised bogs and peatland habitat in Wales. The pioneering project has restored almost four-square miles of threatened peatland habitat to a better condition, providing multiple benefits to the environment, wildlife and people.

Sir David Henshaw, Chair of NRW said:
“I was pleased to welcome the new Cabinet Secretary on site to see first-hand some of challenges facing our environment and the interventions NRW is leading to tackle these issues in collaboration with others.
“The Cabinet Secretary joins us as at a time where we are beginning to formalise our plans and aspirations for the Teifi Demonstrator Catchment project, and we appreciate his support on this initiative.
“The Demonstrator project is unique, seeking innovative environmental solutions through collaboration and partnership with others who share the same ambition for nature. It has the potential to pave the way for catchment management in Wales in the future.”
Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, said:
“The visit has been extremely informative in seeing and hearing about how Natural Resources Wales and local stakeholders are working collaboratively to improve water quality.
“Improving river water quality is a focus for Welsh Government and our River Summits are helping to drive this work forward.  It’s excellent to see the work that’s taking place on the ground in a bid to make the improvements we all want to see to the quality of rivers, streams and lakes.”