Government rejects Shrewsbury man's River Severn petition saying waterway is in Wales

The Westminster Government looked happy to hand over large parts of Shropshire to Wales when it rejected a petition calling for action to clean up rivers.

The River Severn passing through the 'Welsh' town of Shrewsbury...
The River Severn passing through the 'Welsh' town of Shrewsbury...

Shrewsbury resident and NHS surgeon Mark Cheetham set up a petition with parliament calling for the UK Government to 'control pollution from agriculture in the Wye and Severn River catchments'.

He was left stunned when the petition was rejected, with the UK Government's petitions team saying it was because it related to 'activities in Wales' – not taking into account the miles and miles of River Severn that flows through Shropshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire.

The official response said: "Sorry, we can’t accept your petition. It’s about something that the UK Government or Parliament is not responsible for.

"Your petition appears to relate to activities in Wales, and planning and the environment are devolved matters, so the responsibility of the Welsh Government, Welsh local authorities and Natural Resources Wales, not the UK Government or House of Commons."

After Mr Cheetham objected to the decision the petition was reinstated, with the team in charge accepting it "was rejected in error".

Mr Cheetham said the situation was ludicrous.

He said: "It just felt really ridiculous. Like someone who thinks England stops at the end of the M25.

Mark Cheetham was left astounded when the petition was rejected

"If you look at the catchment of the River Severn it goes as far East as Coventry. Rain that falls in Coventry will end up in the River Severn."

Journalist, author, and environmental activist George Monbiot also weighed in on the decision.

Writing on Twitter he said: "This is astonishing. A petition about the pollution of the Wye and Severn catchments has been rejected by Westminster on the grounds they are the sole responsibility of the Welsh Government. Could someone lend the officials at UK Parliament a map?"

He added: "While I fully support the territorial claims of Greater Wales, unlike our parliamentary officials I can't deny the current location of the border."

Mr Cheetham said he had been inspired to create the petition after carrying out more fishing on the Severn during lockdown and becoming concerned about the state of the river.

So far 461 people have signed the petition, which also calls for a moratorium on new poultry units in the Wye and Severn catchment areas.

People who wish to add their name to the re-instated petition can do so at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/596493.

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