Creating a Healthier Happier Herefordshire January 2018 to 2020

The Vision

The citizens of Herefordshire are blessed to live in a beautiful County with immense Social, Natural and Human capital. However, there is significant poverty and hardship. It is a rural and sparsely populated County with the commensurate fiscal challenges like Cumbria, Cornwall and Lincolnshire – we don’t fit the national blueprint. It is an agricultural County awaiting the impact of Brexit and already experiencing challenges of the UK Farming sector and a shortage of immigrant workforce. We are all agreed on and are working towards, a better future for Herefordshire.

The Network, Social Movements and Alliances

Our events have been attended, contributed to and presented at, by representatives and activists from many sectors e.g. Health; Social Care; Local Authority; Civic; Civil; Voluntary, Community, Agriculture; Faith, The Diocese; Business; Education; Media; Technology; Arts and Culture; Tourism. A collective voice and energy with a reach of 120,000 in a County population of 185,000

“We are part of the national and global movement for social justice. Challenging the economic model that counts growth in numbers rather than people’s wellbeing, means building movements for change with workers, faith leaders, artists and activists.” Oxfam November 2019

 A series of extraordinary events:

  1. The future of Health and Care (Sustainability, the challenge now and of the 21st century) January 2018.

A local conversation reflecting that needed at National level about how a tax funded service can meet the exponential increase in need, demand and expectations of the 21st Century, when only 57% of the population pay tax. A General Election is approaching and there are proposals for unparalleled public sector investment in 2020, but there has also been an expert report ( demonstrating that no amount of possible investment will be enough.

  1. Joined up doing (Reflecting the many parallel initiatives) April 2018

Against the backdrop of insufficient funding it was exasperating to find the many well-meaning initiatives delivered by great people but in isolation or parallel to others. This meeting began the improved connectivity across the County and our different sectors.

  1. How can we work better together to create change? (acting on cross sector connectivity) September 2018

A series of presentations of key initiatives across Herefordshire to raise awareness across the County and Sectors. Improving connectivity, raising awareness, amplifying voices. Growing our tribe.

  1. Arts on prescription; Social prescribing; Time banking (Supporting a new initiative from the NHS and a City of Culture initiative in Herefordshire) December 2018

Artists and artisans are a significant small business sector in our rural economy and an opportunity for business diversification in our farming communities

Improving connectivity, raising awareness of the role of Arts, Culture and Non-medical solutions in Health and Well-being.

We had now produced two blogs with a reach beyond our estimated network reach of 120,000 residents.

“Development is about power – who has it – advocacy will only succeed at scale when the collective power of ordinary people is strengthened through the building of social movements and alliances. The transformational change can happen, and has, repeatedly over history.” Oxfam November 2019

  1. Visioning (what is our Vision for Herefordshire in the 21st Century) March 2019

Following the High Sherriff’s event on Social Care (with thanks), CHHH convened a meeting to agree a vision for Herefordshire. Our network will arrange an event(s) for greater citizen engagement, committed to a better future for Herefordshire. The Council, meanwhile, is revisiting its Health and Wellbeing Vision.

Next steps agreed:

  • To keep meeting.
  • To pursue and share models of good practice from elsewhere.
  • To follow up actions and partners from previous events unable to attend this event.

(Thank you to Herefordshire Rural Hub for agreeing to host our social Movement on their website from November 2019)

  1. Food, sustainability and health (An agricultural and food producing County, Food and healthy weight, Food and Brexit. The development of community hubs – an international study) May 2019

This was the first of a series of two events to engage with international research. It was well attended by citizens from Extinction Rebellion and the Brightspace Charity and the Herefordshire Diocese are progressing important work in the County. The Council has subsequently declared a Climate Change Emergency.

  1. Housing (a National and Herefordshire crisis – solutions) September 2019

Presentations from the Herefordshire Community Land Trust and from the Diocese of Herefordshire on the challenge within Herefordshire. The national crisis in housing is multiplied in rural locations. The Council are revisiting their Housing Strategy and there is ongoing engagement. 2019 coincided with the 100-year anniversary of social housing, George Clarkes council housing initiative and a step change in public debate.

Our next event will focus on trees and the environment, there will be a subsequent event on transport and its impact on Health and Wellbeing. Citizen Assemblies/ a Big Conversation(s) are anticipated in Herefordshire soon.

Slurry storage and spreading in times of high rainfall (2019) – Advice and Guidance for Farmers – West Midlands

Notice from the Environment Agency:-   

We are aware that with recent wet weather some farms are concerned about their slurry storage capacity and whether this will be sufficient until the end of the NVZ closed period or until land is suitable for spreading.  We have put this guide together to help you look at your options. The Environment Agency will work with you to find an outcome which poses the lowest environmental risk. Whilst we wish to avoid pollution and soil damage through spreading we also wish to avoid situations where slurry stores overspill and become sources of pollution too. If you are concerned we urge you to contact your local Environment Officer at the earliest opportunity.

Closed Periods

Farms that are situated within an NVZ are limited by closed periods that restrict the spreading of slurry onto fields. These closed periods are in place to protect the rivers and groundwater from losses of nitrate during the winter months when crop uptake is low and rainfall is high. High nitrate in water can affect drinking water safety and aquatic habitats and species.

These closed periods are set out in law and application of slurry to land during these times is be an offence.

As a regulatory body, the Environment Agency must operate within the boundaries set by the regulatory system. We do not have the capacity to change legal requirements for individuals or organisations and we cannot give permission for an operator to spread in the closed period. However, our enforcement response may be influenced by any mitigation measures that have been taken.

If your slurry store is approaching full and the land is unsuitable for safely receiving slurry, or it will breach an NVZ condition we would expect you to consider the following options, and any other measures that you may be able to take.

Reducing the amount of slurry you produce

During exceptional weather you should reduce the amount of slurry (including lightly fouled water) you produce. You should consider and implement the following where possible:

  • wash dairy parlours down with a low volume hose system (0.6 cubic metres per cow per month or 20 litres per cow per day)
  • remove excess dung with a brush or squeegee before hosing down to reduce the amount of wash water you need to use
  • keep animals on straw to produce solid manure rather than slurry
  • divert uncontaminated surface water away from dirty yards
  • keep or move livestock onto the smallest yard area necessary
  • install, maintain or repair gutters and downpipes, especially on roofs that drain onto dirty yards
  • consider covering exposed fouled yard areas

Temporary slurry storage

You must normally comply with SSAFO rules to store slurry.

However, the Environment Agency will waive the full SSAFO requirements if you want to store slurry for less than 12 months. You must only consider temporary storage where existing facilities are inadequate.

Temporary storage could include:

  • reinstating disused stores
  • reclaiming tanks
  • new tanks
  • earth bank lagoons
  • lined lagoons
  • slurry bags

To keep slurry in a temporary store you must:

  • check planning requirements with your local planning authority
  • contact the Environment Agency before construction
  • agree each individual location with the Environment Agency
  • install tanks, liners and slurry bags to manufacturer’s instructions
  • make sure the base of earth bank lagoons is above the water table – there should be at least one metre of clay subsoil beneath the proposed base
  • use a trial pit to confirm the depth of the clay layer – the resulting hole must be backfilled and puddled in
  • use liners where there is doubt about soil permeability – lower grade liners should suffice for temporary storage but use high grade liners in high risk areas
  • monitor it to make sure there are no leaks
  • locate it at least 10 metres from watercourses and land drains – use temporary trial trenches if you’re unsure about the presence of land drains
  • locate it at least 50 metres from groundwater sources
  • de-commission it as soon as it’s no longer needed

If you’re using shared facilities you must:

  • consider any biosecurity risks
  • agree management arrangements
  • agree where responsibility lies

For more information about storing slurry see CIRIA: Livestock manure and silage storage infrastructure for agriculture.


Other options for storage or treatment

You could explore alternative destinations for your slurry such as neighbouring farms, sewage treatment works or anaerobic digesters.

Spreading to low run-off risk land

If you need to spread to land we would require the following:

You must spread slurry:

  • thinly and widely
  • at an application rate not exceeding 20 m3 per hectare – you must use a lower application rate if run-off could enter surface water

You must only spread slurry on land with low run-off risk.

Low run-off risk land:

  • has an average slope of less than 3 degrees
  • does not have land drains other than sealed impermeable pipes
  • has not been pipe drained, mole drained or sub-soiled in the last 12 months
  • does not have a shallow soil less than 30cm above fissured rock
  • has a sufficient depth and suitable type of soil above groundwater to prevent pollution
  • is not within a designated groundwater source protection zone 1
  • is at least 50 metres from surface water or a conduit leading to surface water
  • is at least 50 metres from springs, wells and boreholes where groundwater is used for human consumption
  • does not have compacted soil or a soil surface which is capped – you can only spread where the soil is permeable and has a good structure
  • does not have cracked soil above a land drainage system or groundwater

When the Environment Agency may not take enforcement action

When exceptional weather stops you being able to comply with legislation and guidance, spreading to land may be your only viable option. If you spread slurry and milk during exceptional weather without causing pollution, the Environment Agency may decide not to take enforcement action.

You must:

  • contact the Environment Agency before you spread any slurry to land
  • agree with them that spreading is the only option available
  • only spread the amount of slurry you need to reduce the risk of pollution
  • carry out spreading at a rate of ≤ 20m3 per hectare and on the lowest risk land available – you may be able to export the slurry to neighbouring farms
  • carry out regular checks before, during and after spreading to ensure there is no pollution taking place

You are still responsible for any pollution that you cause.

You should also be aware that breaching an NVZ condition or causing damage to soil may also be a breach of cross compliance rules and may affect your Basic Farm Payment.

Next steps

If you are concerned please contact your local agricultural officer. We will ask you how you have considered these contingency options and we may ask to see the risk map of your farm identifying any low risk land which meets the criteria above. You will also be required to keep records of any spreading that takes place.

We wish to support you in ensuring that your business is resilient in coping with weather conditions and we will be able to offer you further advice on this to help prevent a reoccurrence in future.


Contact Details

Environment Agency National Contact Centre:  03708 506 506


Midlands Senior Agricultural Officers:

Sharon Chisholm: 020302 51692   (Shropshire, Hereford, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire)

Helen Cripps: 020302 51627  (Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands)

Finding a safe place to talk – Marches Counselling Service

This year the National Network of Young Farmers Clubs launched the Rural + Campaign to highlight the impact of isolation on mental wellbeing.  Mental health has become a significant area of concern amongst young adults & within services that seek to support them.

At Marches Counselling Service we are aware of how distressing life can be. There are many pressures and even the strongest among us can feel overwhelmed at times. Because it can be difficult to ask for help, we often carry on past a point where we are looking after ourselves properly, even to the point at which we begin to question whether our life is worthwhile.

Social isolation can make this more likely, as does having either too much or too little time for ourselves.

It is understandable that young people find reaching out difficult. At a time when we are wanting to make our own way in the world it can seem like it is a step backwards; but having help to understand why we feel the way we do, and developing the skills to handle the difficulties which life can throw at us, has always been part of making our way.

MCS was set up to be a grassroots counselling charity, responding to the needs of the local community whist aware of national trends and concerns. We have become an established service, but know we do not always reach the people who face some of the most difficult challenges. This has led to us setting up a focus group tasked with reaching young people. We are looking for opportunities to talk with them about their emotional experience and the kind of support they would find most useful. Too often what is offered is dictated by the assumptions and expectations of others. We want to create an advisory group to help us ensure that the voice of young people is at the centre of what we provide for them and how we provide it.

As a young person from the farming community, a sector where stresses have accumulated over recent years, we would like to hear from you, particularly if you or people close to you have been affected in some way by these issues. It could be that you would be willing to talk to us about what this topic raises for you. Or you might want to put yourself forward to join the advisory group & help us shape what we offer. Or you might have other ideas about how we can gather views from the community.

If you are interested in being involved please contact Jnanamati or Jennifer at MCS

Email:, Phone: 01432 279906 

RDPE Growth Programme open for new applications

The Business Development, Food Processing and Rural Tourism Infrastructure grants are now open to new applications. You must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) form before midnight on 16th February 2020.   

You could be eligible for a Growth Programme grant if your business is carrying out a project to create jobs or bring more money into the rural economy.

There are 3 types of grant:

• Business development
• Food processing
• Rural tourism infrastructure

For full details and guidance go to

The RPA will be at the Herefordshire RURAL BUSINESS ADVICE DAY on 20th November – so come along and find out if you are eligible and get advice on how to apply.

Details of further workshops in Herefordshire:-   

To be held at the Marches Growth Hub, Hereford Business Solutions Centre, Skylon Court, Rotherwas, Hereford

Tuesday 10th December, 2019 10.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m. Click HERE to book

Monday 13th January, 2020 2.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.  Click HERE to book

Workshops can be followed by a limited amount of 1-2-1, depending on time.



NFU Herefordshire Harvest Campaign – “Mud on the Road” signs available

Sometimes displacing mud onto the highway is unavoidable despite our best efforts and therefore signage is required to warn other road users.  As a result of NFU efforts, a road safety message poster was designed and approved by Herefordshire Council.

Farmers using these signs will still need to demonstrate that they are doing all they can to avoid displacing mud onto the road, you will still need to clean the roads as soon as possible and you will need to remove the signs from the highway as soon as appropriate.

As arranged a couple of years ago, EPS Limited has agreed to print the signs on our behalf and been provided with the official specification.
They have agreed to hold the price at £28 + VAT per sign.
Email to order your signs and you will need to pay by card over the phone prior to printing taking place.

Post & package can be arranged at an additional cost, or collection from the Hereford NFU office can be organised.

EPS Limited is located in Craven Arms in Shropshire but Clare Greener (NFU County Advisor, Herefordshire) is happy to bring purchased signs to the Hereford NFU office for your collection.  Please let Clare know of your purchase order details if you would like her to bring the signs to Hereford for you.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Clare.
Tel: 01432 807464
Mobile: 07771 626080

Mud on the road – NFU briefing

The wet summer and autumn, and the impending root crop harvests mean that there is likely to be an increased risk of high levels of mud getting onto the roads. As well as being illegal, excessive mud on the road has led to some serious and fatal accidents and it is essential that members take steps to minimise its impact.

Background – The Law

Farmers and vehicle operators who deposit mud on the road are potentially liable for a range of offences.

While there is a range of powers available to the police and highways department the primary powers fall under the Highways Act 1980.

Section 148 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence to deposit mud etc. on the highway that would interrupt other users of the highway.

Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980 gives the highways authority the power to clean the road and recover its expenses from the person causing the obstruction.

Section 161 Highways Act 1980 “If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything whatsoever on a highway in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured or endangered, that person is guilty of an offence”.

Civil action may also be a possibility where the mud contributes to a personal injury, damage to property, or any loss or inconvenience. The presence of mud can constitute a public nuisance and loss or injury can result in a claim for negligence.

What you should do:

Be prepared to hire in equipment – check availability in advance 

Keep to your own farm roads and minor roads whenever possible 

Keep to low speeds – especially when travelling a short distance – to help retain mud on the vehicle. 

Keep a written record of your decisions on whether or not to deploy signs and/or to clean the road.

What you must do:

Do everything possible to prevent mud being deposited on the road. This includes cleaning mud from vehicles, as far as practicable, before they are taken onto the road. 

If there is a danger of mud being accidently deposited on roads, use ‘Slippery Road’ signs with a ‘Mud on Road’ sub plate to alert other road users.  Check with your local highways authority their requirements for warning signs at the side of the road. 

Clean the road as necessary during the working day and always at the end of the working day. 

Ensure that labour and equipment is available and is suitable for the soil and weather conditions present. 

Where a contractor is used, ensure that prior agreement is reached on who is responsible for mud on road issues (signage, cleaning etc) and ensure that adequate public liability insurance is in place.


Further Information

Highways Act 1980 Traffic Regulation Act

Road Traffic Act 1988

Highway Code

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

The end of Windows 7. Can you afford not to change?

Windows 7 is one of Microsoft’s best-loved computing operating systems.  Like all operating systems before it, Windows 7 will very soon reach the end of its lifecycle, as Microsoft will end support on 14th January 2020.

Once an operating system ends support it is no longer safe to use, as Microsoft will cease patching any security threats and will not add any new features. Third party software will begin to stop supporting the operating system and many financial websites, such as online banking, will become unsafe to use and vulnerable to attacks and data theft.

Although Windows 7 will not suddenly cease to work after 14th January 2020, continuing to use it will open your devices and precious data to more and more malicious attacks. There may be a short-term cost in migrating outdated equipment to a new and secure Windows 10 device, but in a world where all your information is held on your computer or online, have you considered the cost of doing nothing?

Microsoft suggest a ‘three-step plan’ for moving past Windows 7:

1. Back up of all your files and photos
2. Pick out a suitable new PC that is right for you
3. Immerse yourself in learning the new Windows 10 user experience.

If you use bespoke programs such as Farmplan, Landmark or Sum-It, their tech teams will be able to give you advice and guidance on the process.

All three companies have stands at the Herefordshire Rural Business Advice Day on 20th November, so come along talk to them there.

This information about Windows 7 has been kindly supplied by Farmplan.

New rules on water use and abstraction – don’t lose your previously exempt abstraction rights

Water abstraction rules have changed and most previously exempt activities cannot continue without an abstraction licence in place. Time is running short to secure a licence for previously exempt abstractions, which is why you need to apply now, in good time before the 31 December 2019 deadline.

If you abstract more than 20 cubic metres (4400 gallons) of water per day, and the activity for which you abstract was previously exempt from the need for an abstraction licence, you may lose your rights to continue with this activity unless you apply for a licence now.

The following forms of abstraction now require a licence:

  • All forms of irrigation, including trickle – even if you already have a licence for spray irrigation;
  • Abstractions within previously exempt geographical areas, which include parts of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and South Shropshire;
  • Transferring water by a navigation, harbour or conservancy authority;
  • Abstracting water into and between internal drainage districts;
  • Dewatering mines, quarries and engineering works;
  • Warping (abstraction of water containing silt for deposit onto agricultural land);
  • Abstractions for managed wetland systems and water level management plans, as well as Countryside Stewardship agreements with flooding/wetland options;
  • The majority of abstractions covered by Crown, visiting forces and the Ministry of Defence.

These changes to water abstraction rules will better protect the environment by helping to balance the needs of abstractors, while protecting scarce water supplies and the plants and animals that rely on them.

So what do you need to do?

Application forms and further information on how to apply are available at: .

The Environment Agency strongly encourage everyone affected to submit a valid abstraction licence application to them by the 31 December 2019 deadline, to secure their existing water needs.

It is important that applications are sent to the EA as soon as possible. By applying now it will allow time for them to check that they have all of the information needed for each application – known as making the application valid.
It can take up to 3 months to validate an application.

Failing to make a valid application on time means that you will miss the more favourable transitional arrangements provided by the new Regulations. These benefits allow you to have a licence based on evidence of recent past use (based on a time period of 2011 to 2017), as well as the inclusion of lighter touch restrictions on any licence issued, compared to usual restrictions.

This is a one-off opportunity and a highly valuable provision that cannot be retrospectively applied after the 31 December deadline. After then, all applications will be assessed on the basis of water availability which, in some parts of the country, rules out abstracting water in the summer months.

EA are committed to helping people who were previously exempt get their application forms completed and validated before the deadline closes. They have a free hotline and bookable appointment service to help with drafting applications or answering any questions you may have.
Call 03708 506 506 and ask for the ‘New Authorisations hotline’ or
email stating ‘New Authorisations’ in the email subject to find out more.

The EA may take enforcement action against those that do not have a ‘valid’ application after 31 December 2019, but continue to abstract water.
Continuing to abstract after this deadline, without submitting an application, will be unlawful. It is therefore important not to miss the deadline.

What is an abstraction?

An ‘abstraction’ means any water that is removed (taken or partially diverted) from a source of supply (for example a river, stream, ground or other watercourse) either by a pump, structure or other means. This also includes water transfers, whether the water is consumed in some way or not.

Water removed from a source of supply and returned (for example downstream) is also an abstraction (for example transfer through a water meadow system) and will also now require a licence.

If you are a householder, farmer or business taking water from a river, stream or ground (borehole), you firstly need to check if you abstract more than 20 cubic metres (m3) per day (or more than 4400 gallons per day). As a rough guide this is a similar amount to a medium sized milk tanker or equates to 260 baths a day. So, a single household is not likely to need a licence, unless it is part of a collection of houses on one borehole supply which may exceed 20m3 per day.

If you abstract/transfer less than 20m3 per day you do not need to apply for a licence.