Poultry unit planning permission to be challenged in the courts

Fears of pollution in the River Wye from poultry production has seen a law firm issue proceedings in the High Court to challenge a decision by Powys County Council.

The River Wye At Glasbury
The River Wye At Glasbury

Fish Legal has issued proceedings in the High Court in Cardiff to challenge the decision by the local authority to grant planning permission to double the size of an industrial

poultry unit near Builth Wells.

The unit is located in the River Wye catchment and planning permission has been granted which would see an increase from 90,000 birds to 180,000.

Fish Legal is seeking a Judicial Review and has claimed that the council had not assessed the effect of tonnes of additional poultry manure that would be turned into digestate and spread on land in the River Wye catchment.

Powys County Council has confirmed that it intends to defend the decision.

Fish Legal, a not-for-profit organisation of lawyers who represent anglers fighting against pollution and damage which threatens the water environment, has said that the River Wye is a highly protected habitat by law.

It is designated as a Special Area of Conservation because it supports species such as the river weed ranunculus, white clawed crayfish, sea lamprey, brook lamprey, twaite shad, Atlantic salmon and allis shad.

However, they say that currently 60 per cent of the River Wye and its catchment fail environmental targets for phosphates; a key pollutant that causes algal blooms on the river and adversely affects its ecology.

Justin Neal, solicitor at Fish Legal said: “The council has effectively said it does not need to concern itself with what happens to the manure and other chicken waste that is transported off site from this development.

"Given that the intention is to spread it on fields next to a tributary of the Wye, they should have looked into the possible impacts on the river from pollution.”

“While we have some sympathy with farmers who want to diversify or increase their output, this has to be seen in the context of on-going ecological collapse of the river Wye, the continuing trend of placing the units in the Wye catchment, a failure of planners to properly consider pollution risks and the failure of Natural Resources Wales to regulate and provide sound advice to planners.”

A Judicial Review will see a Judge deciding whether a claim is arguable to take further.

If it is a hearing will take place into the arguments and evidence from both sides, followed by the Judge's ruling.

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