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Welsh Lib Dems raise pollution concerns over plans for ‘mega chicken farm’

11 Jan 2023 3 minute read
Some of the phosphate pollution in the river Wye is thought to arise from chicken farms in Wales

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have raised concerns over the planning of a “mega chicken farm” which could be built in Builth Wells.

Liberal Democrat, Jane Dodds MS, pointed to the unprecedented growth of intensive poultry units in Powys and warned that rivers could be polluted as a result.

Her comments come following a report that the Welsh Government may block a new 100,000 broiler chicken farm in the Wye catchment.

The farm would include two agricultural steel portal framed buildings to rear 50,000 broiler chickens in each one, as well as installing feed bins, creating a new vehicular access together with all other associated works.

Speaking at the Senedd, Jane Dodds MS said: “As a resident of Hay-on-Wye myself, I’m extremely concerned about pollution in the River Wye, as well as others rivers in Powys such as the Severn and Usk, the latter of which is actually the most polluted river in Wales.

“Whilst I support farmers’ need to diversify, a balance must be struck. It is my belief that we have now reached a saturation point when it comes to intensive poultry units in Powys.

“With Powys having received five times as many IPU applications than the rest of Wales combined since 2017 there has to be a limit. River pollution in the River Wye, Usk and others in Powys is a serious issue and it is vital that we do all we can to protect them and the nature they support.”

Stringent requirements

There are currently more than 20 million chickens in the River Wye catchment area and it’s estimated there are around 8.5 million heads of poultry in Powys – equivalent to 64 birds for every person – the majority on 100 large-scale farms raising more than 40,000 chickens each.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are now calling on the Welsh Labour Government to introduce new planning guidance to place more stringent requirements on proposals for poultry units allowing local authorities to more easily reject proposals that are likely to contribute to water pollution.

Commenting Jane Dodds MS said: “It is important to recognise however that the problems are not solely from IPU’s. Sewage dumping is also playing a huge role.

“This is something that both the UK Conservative Government and the Welsh Labour Government have powers to legislate against, but are failing to do so. We need to see a comprehensive effort to save our rivers, lakes and seas before it is too late.”

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