Questions over water pollution risk from new intensive poultry proposal in Herefordshire

1st June 2022

Fish Legal has raised concerns about an application that will increase capacity at a poultry site in Herefordshire that runs alongside the River Arrow. In a consultation that runs until 14 June 2022, the Environment Agency are considering whether to grant a permit to allow Hergest Camp Broiler Farm to increase capacity from 33,000 turkeys to 215,000 chickens.

Fish Legal has responded to the consultation on behalf of the Kington Fishing Club who are concerned about the direct and indirect pollution risk from the site and its potential impact on wild brown trout populations in the River Arrow and species in the wider catchment.

The River Arrow connects to the River Lugg which is a Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a tributary of the River Wye Special Area of Conservation (SAC).   In March, Natural England issued updated advice to Herefordshire Council to carefully consider the nutrients impacts on the River Lugg of any additional development that will result in a net increase in population served by a wastewater system including new homes, student and tourist accommodation.

Justin Neal, Solicitor at Fish Legal said:

“The fact that an increase in poultry production on this scale is even being considered by the Environment Agency at a time when local planners, following Natural England’s advice, cannot approve certain developments where an adverse nutrient impact on the River Lugg cannot be ruled out, just goes to show how disjointed regulators are when it comes to safeguarding highly protected rivers”.

He added:

“This application is woefully lacking in the most basic details about the potential pollution risk to nearby watercourses. There is virtually no information about where poultry manure will be stored or spread or how dirty water at the site will be managed and a near total-absence of clear, measurable, and verifiable plans for what happens to the poultry waste if and when it is exported off-site”.

Richard Banks, from Kington Fishing Club said:

“Our ancient but fragile stream and its population of wild trout, salmonids, native English crayfish, and unique plant and birdlife is already under intense stress from agricultural pollution and excessive water extraction.”

He added

“We fully support farmers, but we cannot support industrial agricultural projects which are only viable because they exploit regulatory loopholes and lax enforcement to derive their profits from destruction of their local environment.  This intensive poultry factory is a grave further threat to our natural ecosystem and the downstream local community.  As it stands, we oppose it wholeheartedly.”

The consultation is open until 14 June 2022:

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