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Save the River Wye!


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Save the River Wye! Demand moratorium on all new poultry units in Powys

Kate Bull started this petition to Powys County Council

Every summer now, the River Wye is turning a putrid green and its delicate ecology is being destroyed by algae blooms that are caused by effluent from poultry farms flowing into it. If this goes on, we will lose everything that we treasure about the Wye. It will turn a horrible, ugly green every time it gets sunny. The fish will go, and they will be followed by our kingfishers, our dippers and our herons. It is very, very worrying.

There are now 116 intensive poultry units (IPUs) in Powys, each raising more than 40,000 birds. With an estimated 8.5 million chickens on permitted units in the county, that is 64 times more chickens than people.

Powys County Council and Natural Resources Wales have a legal responsibility to protect Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) such as the Wye. They have, however, been apparently unwilling to use the existing laws to protect the river from the damage caused by a proliferation of poultry units in the county. When granting planning permission, the Council has consistently refused to consider the impact of new poultry developments individually and cumulatively on the local environment, including the county's rivers and water courses.

Enough is enough. We call on Powys County Council to instate an immediate moratorium on planning permissions for new or extended poultry units in the county until the full environmental - and community - impacts of those we already have can be assessed and reduced.

Sign petition here.

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In 1988 when my wife and I converted a 14th century hall house in Eyton into a small country house hotel we had the problem of the building's waste running into a septic tank which then overflowed into the stream passing through the property. In order to cure the problem a mechanical treatment plant costing upwards of £25,000 would have to be installed according to the Environment Agency.

A chance meeting with Dr Rick Hudson of Cress Water resolved the problem for only £900 and was the first reed bed installation in Herefordshire. The reed bed sat unobstrusively in the grounds and the water coming out of the system was cleaner than the water in the stream to which we were discharging and no smells. 

These chicken farms could be dealt in the same manner.

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1 hour ago, megilleland said:

These chicken farms could be dealt in the same manner.

I think you'll find that the mountains of slurry and manure that the poultry produce (poultry manure is by some margin the most phosphate rich muck produced by domesticated animals) in principally Powys, would require a wetland system about three times the size of the Powys to ameliorate! There are over 10 million birds there now with planning permission granted. The manure management plans say a lot will be exported these days. Where to?? Herefordshire...? This is a regulatory failure by both NRW and Powys CC on a scale hitherto thought possible only somewhere in central Africa.  It's a crying shame, and the petition is a great start to get the problem sorted out. It will take several years to compensate all the farms that have been perfectly lawfully carrying on polluting with the blessing (ie planning permission) of PCC and the aid and assistance of the supermarket supply chain that pays them (think the likes of Avara, Noble Foods and Cargill etc). Taxpayers will once again have deep pockets to pay for the mess that large scale industrial farming creates. Don't forget the mantra #CheapFood - one of Mr Gove's favourite reasons for Brexit, IIRC.

This is a big scandal and is only going to get bigger in the coming months!

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  • 2 months later...

Avara not only ruining the River Wye, but also Brazil's ecostructure.

Extract from The Guardian 27th November 2020


The ship’s hold had been loaded in Cotegipe port terminal in Salvador, Brazil, with beans that had come from the Cerrado’s Matopiba region, including some from Formosa do Rio Preto, the Cerrado’s most heavily deforested community. As well as Cargill, the suppliers included Bunge (Brazil’s biggest soya exporter) and ADM (another leading US food producer).

After crossing the Atlantic, the entire shipment was unloaded into Cargill’s Seaforth soya crush plant in Liverpool, according to maritime and shipping records. The investigation tracked the way that grain crushed there is then trucked to mills in Hereford and Banbury, where it is mixed with wheat and other ingredients to produce livestock feed. From there, it is taken to chicken farms contracted to Avara.

Avara is a joint venture between Cargill and Faccenda Foods. It fattens up birds, which are slaughtered, processed and packaged for distribution to Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Nando’s, McDonald’s and other retailers. Avara thrives in relative obscurity. “You might not have heard of us but there’s a good chance you’ve enjoyed our products,” the company’s website says.

So where, exactly, is this soya originating from? Avara’s supplier, Cargill, buys soya from many suppliers in the Cerrado, at least nine of which have been involved in recent land clearance. Analysis by the consultancy Aidenvironment of the land owned or used by these companies since 2015 found 801 sq km of deforestation – an area equivalent to 16 Manhattans. It also detected 12,397 recorded fires.

As recently as last month, drone footage taken in Formosa do Rio Preto showed huge fires burning on Fazenda Parceiro, a farm run by SLC Agrícola, which is a supplier to Cargill. Satellite data shows the fires burned 65 sq km of the farm. More than 210 sq km has been cleared on SLC Agrícola land over the past five years, according to the Aidenvironment analysis. Cargill said it broke no rules, nor their own policies, by sourcing from the farm in question and made clear it does not source from illegally deforested land. SLC Agrícola were approached for comment but declined.

Despite this destruction, produce from these areas can be labelled as legal and sustainable in Brazil. This highlights the shortcomings of an international trade system that relies on local standards, which are often influenced by farmers focused on short-term economic profit, rather than long-term global good, which would incorporate the value of water systems, carbon sinks and wildlife habitats.

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There are currently over 1900 planning applications being held undetermined at Herefordshire Council because of the phosphate issue affecting water courses to the whole of the north of the County, much of it flowing in from Powys. Some of the applications are a year or more old. Meetings are being held by all the controlling bodies (and there are a lot of em) ... but little headway is being made to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, the construction industry, much of it locally based, is being crippled by something that is not only not their fault, but completely outside their control.

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  • 2 months later...

Welsh council admits it should not have approved vast poultry farm

(extracts from Guardian article))

Permission for 110,000-chicken farm in ‘poultry capital of Wales’ withdrawn after legal challenge brought by local pressure group

Powys has become a focal point for opposition to the boom in intensive poultry units (IPUs) after freedom of information requests revealed the authority has approved more than 150 in the past five years.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) led calls for a moratorium on intensive poultry farms after discovering Powys had received five times as many IPU applications than the rest of Wales since 2017.

It is estimated there are around 8.5 million head of poultry in Powys – equivalent to 64 birds for every person – the majority on 100 large-scale farms raising more than 40,000 chickens each.

Environmental campaigners say the explosion in IPUs in the county is linked to the deterioration of rivers in Wales.

Last summer saw algal blooms turn the River Wye – which flows from mid Wales through Powys to the Severn estuary – into “pea soup”, a phenomenon damaging to biodiversity which campaigners blame on phosphates from livestock manure running into waterways.

Welsh environment watchdog Natural Resources Wales (NRW) admitted in December that 60% of the Wye failed to meet phosphate targets – but said the high percentage was due to tighter restrictions.


In The Guardian:

‘It's like pea soup’: poultry farms turn Wye into wildlife death trap

As if there are not enough problems with the flooding.

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  • 11 months later...

Let's hope it doesn't get as bad as this. 

Garbage and the sea devour the largest ‘slum’ in Monrovia
West Point, Liberia's largest shantytown, has lost dozens of meters to erosion in the last decade. The victims, forgotten by the government, number in the thousands.


In the absence of containers, the water ends up being, in most cases, the landfill of the settlement.


From El Pais

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  • 4 weeks later...

Jesse Norman MP raises question about the state of the River Wye at Prime Minister's Question Time. It is vital for all the key parties, and in particular the Environment Agency, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, to come together now and create a single, integrated, long-term strategy straddling both sides of the border, if we are going to clean up the priceless national asset that is the Wye.


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  • 3 months later...

Worcester angler calls for pollution action to 'save' River Severn

An angler says urgent action is needed to clean up the River Severn after finding "shocking" levels of pollution.

Glyn Marshall, who also campaigns to protect rivers, said Severn Trent Water was not removing phosphate at its treatment plant at Diglis, Worcester.

He fears pollution will lead to algae growth and wildlife dying.

Severn Trent said its permit did not require it to remove phosphate at the site, but the plant was being upgraded to allow it to do this by May 2026.

Mr Marshall, 65, said data from the river sewage map showed untreated waste went into the Severn at Diglis 81 times last year.

"The residents of Worcester need to realise that what's going into our local river is horrible and it's not getting any better," he said.

The river had become increasingly polluted and one example was reduced levels or streamer weed which animals such as cygnets fed on, he said.

"I have seen in the change in the last three of four years and it's not the same river I fished when I was a teenager," he said.

He fears the Severn could become like the River Wye which was "just about teetering".

Campaigners say high phosphate levels in the Wye are causing excessive algae growth which harms wildlife.


Clean water is going to be a valuable commodity in the future and all we are doing is pouring it down the drain. After all you can't drink oil.

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