A study by Natural Resources Wales has revealed that more than half the River Wye is failing to meet pollution targets.
NRW has published its findings into the phosphate levels following a review of historical water quality data for the Wye, which it divides into 44 sections. Its study compared phosphate concentrations found in each section against set pollution targets, but a total of 27 failed to meet those targets.
Fish Legal solicitor Justin Neal, who is representing Ross-on-Wye Angling Club, said he was glad Natural Resources Wales was finally admitting there was a problem but believed the collected data failed to capture the gravity of the situation.
He said: “It’s pretty much just a snapshot and I think the real horror of the levels of phosphate in this river haven’t been told yet. If you rock up every six weeks and do some monitoring, it’s not going to catch the big pollution events which may occur when you get lots of rainfall.”
However, Natural Resources Wales have offered no real solution on how to stop phosphates getting into the river.
Fish Legal also disputes Natural Resources Wales’ position that there is no direct link between phosphate pollution and chicken farms near the river.
Commenting on the lack of monitoring and investigation of the phosphate problem on the SAC, Dr Neal said:”They need to get round to investigating the problem and not blocking out particular investigations like denying that it could be the chicken farms.”
Fish Legal put the environmental regulator in Wales on notice in June that phosphate inputs into the River Wye linked to waste from free-range poultry farming have caused environmental damage.
Following the notification, under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (Wales) Regulations 2009, Natural Resources Wales needs to investigate and ensure that the farms in question put in place proposals to prevent further damage from occurring. Natural Resources Wales are yet to provide a formal response to the notification.