Article - Natural Resources Wales Told to Take Action Over River Wye Pollution
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Article Natural Resources Wales Told to Take Action Over River Wye Pollution

Discussion in 'The Angling Trust Forum' started by REG PHILLIPS, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. REG PHILLIPS

    REG PHILLIPS Member

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    Media News



    Tuesday, 30th June, 2020

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    Natural Resources Wales told to take action over River Wye pollution

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    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 (see note 6) 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.



    Justin Neal of Fish Legal said:



    “It is worrying that the regulator responsible for protecting the Wye has stood by without using its powers to prevent damage to the river. This habitat should be pristine. But it has become so polluted that the river is failing to meet its status targets under national and European law. Natural Resources Wales now needs to act to prevent further harm to the Wye in line with its statutory duties.”

    Paul Unsworth of Ross Angling Club, who has been an angler for over 55 years, said:




    “Natural Resources Wales appear to have been sleeping on the job. Whilst I can see that individual poultry farms in Powys may be acting responsibly, the regulator has clearly failed to assess the impact that all of these farms are having on the river in combination.

    “The Wye’s ecology is of the utmost importance. It supports the whole tourism industry in the Wye Valley and provides recreation for people of all ages. Sadly, Natural Resources Wales has allowed the number of chicken farms in mid-Wales to proliferate to the point where one industry could potentially kill off this precious river and the livelihoods of people who rely on it. Hopefully, this formal notification will force them to do something to protect the river before it is too late.”

    Natural Resources Wales has been given two weeks to to respond to the formal notification.

    Editor's Notes:


    1. Fish Legal is a membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK. It is united in a collaborative relationship with the Angling Trust, the national representative and governing body for angling in England. Joint membership packages with the Angling Trust are available for individuals, clubs, fisheries and other categories. For more information please visit visit the Fish Legal website



    2. More information on the Ross-on-Wye Angling Club



    3. The River Wye is Special Area of Conservation which is protected under European and UK law because it is home to salmon, lamprey, shad and white clawed crayfish.

    4. It is alleged that streams feeding into the Wye, adjacent to hundreds of new free-range poultry farms, are raising the phosphate levels due to drains and run-off of chicken waste from poultry farms.



    5. Phosphates cause “eutrophication” of rivers and streams leading to algal blooms, a lowering of the oxygen levels and a disruption of the finely balanced chemical qualities and impact on the habitat of various species and their ability to spawn. It also causes damage to plant and insect life which inevitably impacts species and their protected habitat. Ranunculus weed, for instance, which is central to the river’s ecology, is smothered by the algae and has completely died back. Spawning gravels also become smothered by the algae and fish numbers are in sharp decline.

    6. See conjoined EC Cases C-293/17 and C-294/17 (7 Nov 2018)


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    Image:



    The River Wye earlier this month

    Fish Legal is a membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK. It is united in a collaborative relationship with the Angling Trust, the national representative and governing body for angling in England. Joint membership packages with the Angling Trust are available for individuals, clubs, fisheries and other categories.

    Click here for more information about membership

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    WWW.FISHLEGAL.NET

    Angling Trust Limited is a company limited by guarantee, company number 05320350

    Angling Trust & Fish Legal, Eastwood House, Rainbow Street, Leominster, HR6 8DQ

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