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Tesco comes under fire over role in river Wye pollution

06 Jul 2022 2 minute read
Pollution from chicken manure is one of the main causes of the river’s declining health. Photo David Merrett / Flickr, CC BY 2.0 licence

Gavin McEwan, local democracy reporter

Tesco has defended its role in protecting the river Wye after coming under attack from environmentalists.

The campaign group River Action claims the supermarket giant is key to saving the river from irreparable ecological harm caused by high amounts of phosphate from chicken manure washing into it.

This nutrient causes “blooms” of algae which can turn the river a soupy green, starve it of oxygen and cause loss of river wildlife.

It says Tesco is the biggest customer of egg producer Noble Foods and chicken producer Avara Foods, which are responsible for a large share of the over 20 million chickens in the river Wye catchment.

Represented by law firm Leigh Day, River Action has written to senior Tesco figures to call for urgent action to address the problem.

Ecological collapse

“If this situation continues to be left unaddressed, the river Wye faces ecological collapse,” the letter warns.

It calls on the retailer to meet the LEAF Marque environmental standard in its poultry supply chain; to publish environmental risk assessments of the supply chain; to insist that suppliers have an approved manure management plan; and to help suppliers achieve this.

River Action founder and chair Charles Watson said: “Tesco must not allow itself to potentially contribute to the destruction of one of the nation’s favourite rivers by continuing to procure its poultry products without requiring major environmental improvements from suppliers.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We want to play our part in ensuring the protection of the river Wye, alongside other actors across the food industry.

“Together with our partners WWF, we have directly funded the Wye & Usk Foundation, which works with our suppliers on implementing nature-based solutions, including tree planting, as well as supporting farmers to test soils and implement on-farm best practice that all help reduce pollution in the River Wye.

“We have encouraged all of our suppliers to sign up to the Water Roadmap, which looks to reduce water pollution in key sourcing regions including the Wye and Usk catchment.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Did not the NRW recently say this was not the case?

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