Fish Legal has put the environmental regulator in Wales on notice 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.
Fish Legal is representing one of its members – the Ross-on-Wye Angling Club – who have held fishing rights on the River Wye since 1912. In recent years, anglers at the club have witnessed a gradual increase in the frequency and duration of algal blooms on their fishery in parallel with the expansion of the free-range poultry industry in the upper Wye catchment.
Fish Legal have also said that an “Appropriate Assessment” should be carried out to determine the harm being caused to the Wye by poultry farming, following two European Court rulings which clarified that existing agricultural practices should be seen as ‘plans’ or ‘projects’ under the Habitats Directive. As a result, the environmental regulator will need to establish with certainty that the current farming practices are not adversely affecting the integrity of the River Wye Special Area of Conservation.
The fate of the river was recently highlighted by the Wye and Usk Foundation, which has reported algal blooms for the first time ever occurring as high up the catchment as Llanbister in an area with very few other phosphate inputs to the river.