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Griff Rhys Jones says Welsh rivers ‘under siege’ as slurry spill leaves river by his holiday home ‘stinking of excrement’

22 Sep 2021 2 minute read
Griff Rhys Jones. Picture by Phil Guest (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Griff Rhys Jones has declared that Wales’ rivers are “under siege” and called for action as a suspected slurry spill left a river by his holiday home dead of life and “stinking of excrement”.

The Welsh actor warned that “human waste and the slurry from intensive farming is swilling into our major rivers” and that the spill had “seemed to have wiped out the entire eco-system”.

He was alerted to the spill near his holiday cottage near Trefasser which he had bought 17 years before in order to restore.

When he arrived he found “carnage” as almost all the life in the pond had been wiped out.

“They were all dead,” he told the Daily Mail. “The slurry had deoxygenated the entire lake. How much of this muck had been washed in?”

He said that the dead river life included very rare eels. “I had never seen this protected species here before,” he said. “They are rapidly becoming a worldwide rarity. In the past 40 years, the number of eels arriving in Europe has fallen by around 95 per cent.”

‘Getting worse’

He added that he contacted Natural Resources Wales but that they could do little to find out who was behind the alleged dumping.

“As I walked along its devastated length that weekend, I found myself struck by the paradox of all this,” he said. “What is the point of organic farming and hedgerow policies on the one hand, if we are unable to control the excesses that can destroy it in an instant on the other?

“Human waste and the slurry from intensive farming is swilling into our major rivers. It has been reported by The Rivers Trust that only 14 per cent of our rivers meet clean water standards.

“We ought to be doing more. But even as we loudly trumpet organic farming and rewilding and eco-policy and natural virtues from all sides and in every magazine, we are actively getting worse.

“It is clear we have the will. How are we going to take action?”

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Sian Caiach
2 years ago

Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru sometimes seem quite relaxed about spills of sewage and other pollutants.. Slurry and sewage can surely be tracked to source to some extent but NRW are rather short of resources, despite their name and here in Llanelli, where I am a councillor, Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru have not been able to fully treat the local human sewage for many years. Its a disgrace and adds to the problems of climate change and environmental damage. Many Welsh elected politicians at all levels are reduced to sighing and shrugging their shoulders as if every polluting incident… Read more »

2 years ago

You might expect this kind of failure from the privatized water companies in England, where management put profit for shareholders over everything else, but Dŵr Cymru is supposed to be a not-for-profit organization, so failures to manage effluent seem more difficult to either explain or excuse. It is also difficult to control nitrate / phosphate run-off into our rivers and streams, as everytime anyone tries to address the issue they can’t be heard for whinging livestock, and of course, chicken farmers (who seem intent on ensuring that Wale’s next pandemic will arrise from an Avian strain with Powys as the… Read more »

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
2 years ago

Poor English millionaire. How about the effect it has on the people who actually live there and benefit the area?

Mike Hamblett
Mike Hamblett
2 years ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

How stupid to criticise someone who wants to do something about it.

j humphrys
j humphrys
2 years ago

Yes, well Gruff has pointed something out, correctly, so we can’t blame him for it.
I thought there was legislation about slurry and such, and it was so blanketed that it affected the small family farms which are not the problem? But obviously the big boys
are not frightened of it. Better sign ’em off, then?

Dafydd Evans
Dafydd Evans
2 years ago

In the 1980’s our rivers were literally stuffed with huge shoals of sewin and I remember that 1988 in particular saw a colosal abundance of fish returning to our rivers to spawn – it was a truly wonderous sight and at the time angling was worth multi millions to the Welsh economy, even attracting US president Jummy Carter to fish the Tywi in Carmarthenshire. Then with the move from hay to silage and manure to slurry and ever increasing herd sizes, the level of phospates / nitrates entering our rivers exploded. Either as a major pollution incident killing thousands of… Read more »

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