Re: Pollution in the River Wye
Dear James Evans MS,
Thank you for your letter dated 18th August 2021 regarding the important issue of river pollution.
We have several points we would like the opportunity to discuss with you about your response.
While Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have not specified that chicken manure and Industrial Poultry Units (IPUs) are a specific cause of pollution, the Nutrient Management Plan, which NRW sit on the Board for, stated that 66% of the pollution in the Wye is from agricultural sources.
We also know that NRW has not specifically looked for a link to the high levels of manure that are being spread onto land within the catchment, which derives from IPUs. We have not seen any information that details how the NRW conclusion on IPUs was drawn as it does not appear in the public domain. Perhaps you could ascertain how they drew this conclusion or if it is, as we perceive, a personal statement concluded through lack of evidence as no investigations have been made. We would like to see further investigations and monitoring by NRW as a matter of urgency. We request that, as the Senedd Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, you seek an urgent investigation by NRW to ascertain how the River Wye is being effected by having over 40 million chickens within its catchment. This investigation should include monitoring tributaries near disposal sites and ensuring present permit conditions are not being breached.
Radnorshire Wildlife Trust also shares your concerns about the role of sewage in the pollution of the Wye. Our campaign will include this once we have a satisfactory response from the Welsh Government and NRW on the agricultural sources, which currently are the biggest cause of pollution. You refer to Welsh Conservatives wanting to agree on the best way forward: there are several measures we are seeking and would welcome an opportunity to discuss these.
The Wildlife Trusts do not support the assertion that food is a “public benefit” as food is a commodity that is traded on an open market. In contrast, a public good has both non-rivalry and non-excludability. The main concerns to food security remain supply chain risks, either through climate change and/or logistical issues. We do agree that local food production should be promoted, especially through enabling communities, but only if this can be sustainably achieved. The reality is that consumer and retail demands will dominate food supply decisions, and Wales is limited on the variety and seasonality of food it can produce economically. We would also welcome a discussion on sustainable food production and supply chains and the measures we are seeking in the Agriculture (Wales) Bill and the new Sustainable Farming Scheme.
As mentioned, we would welcome a discussion on how Welsh Conservatives want to address river pollution from all sources, including agriculture. We would also be interested in assisting in the Members Bill you mention.
Chief Executive Officer
Radnorshire Wildlife Trust