Second Summit on Phosphorus Pollution in Wales

First Minister Mark Drakeford MS speaking outside July’s initial phosphorus summit at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in Builth Wells.

Wednesday 8th March, 2023

Today the second “Phosphorus Summit” will be hosted by the First Minister Mark Drakeford MS in Cardiff.

This follows the original meeting held at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in July last year. At that initial summit, the First Minister called on all sectors to own their contribution to the problem of excessive nutrients in Welsh rivers, and to devise their own solutions.

Welsh Government will also be represented by Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change and Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd.

Also in attendance will be representatives from the agricultural and house building sectors, from Natural Resources Wales and environmental organisations. Gail Davies-Walsh, Afonydd Cymru’s CEO, will be there on behalf of the rivers and river trusts of Wales, with our Chairman, Chris Mills, joining remotely.

The summit has two broad objectives. Firstly, to present a draft Action Plan devised by Welsh Government’s SAC Rivers Oversight Group to reduce phosphorus pollution in Welsh SAC rivers so that affordable homebuilding can resume and, secondly, for different sectors to present solutions to their own contributions to the problem.

Even with the limited time available, we would hope for more to be covered. At the July 2022 summit, there were eight areas identified where the First Minister wanted to see progress. Some progress has been made in certain areas, less in others. Nutrient management boards, for example, are being set up in parts of Wales (other than the Wye, where one has operated for some time) to resolve issues. Afonydd Cymru has been helping Carmarthenshire Council with the establishment of theirs for the Cleddau, Tywi and Teifi.

Other areas are of more concern. Of particular interest tomorrow will be the Action Plan proposals to resolve excessive nutrients in rivers from agriculture. This is, of course, the sector responsible for the largest phosphorus contribution in most Welsh SAC rivers, despite having a substantial amount of money spent on it in recent years.

However, we have not seen any proposals from agriculture since July. We hope to see some firm commitments from this sector at today’s summit. 

Posted: March 7, 2023