The Herefordshire Wildlife Trust says that it welcomes Avara’s commitment to act on River Wye pollution but would like more detail included in the plans.

In a statement, the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust said:

“We welcome Avara’s commitment to act but while the intentions outlined are commendable we feel their roadmap lacks detail and urgency.

“It is clear that the River Wye and tributaries are severely damaged as a result of pollution with various nutrients especially Phosphorus – salmon catches are down 95% from the 1970s, some invertebrate groups are now missing from the river and important plant species, e.g. water-crowfoot, have become mostly absent from the river. It is reported that we should expect total ecological collapse of this nationally important river system within two years. It has been established that the majority of these nutrients come from agriculture, especially livestock farming.

“Avara Foods is one of the largest livestock organisations in the catchment, and it has recently published a ‘roadmap for the future management of poultry manure’ ,12th January 2023.

“We welcome Avara’s commitment to act but while the intentions outlined are commendable we feel their roadmap lacks detail and urgency.”

The points we believe Avara needs to clarify are this:

They refer to 120 farms producing 158,660 tonnes of manure per year – is this the total of all Avara’s owned and contracted farms in the Wye catchment (England & Wales)?

“Since 2016 we have successfully reduced the amount of phosphate in our feed by 27%” – With 80% of phosphorus arriving in the catchment thought to be from animal feed this is a key point. However, as their business has grown since 2016, it is not clear whether the total volume of phosphate entering the catchment in this way has decreased or if it is in fact a increase in real terms. We would like to see the amounts expressed as total tonnes rather than as a percentage, for clarity.

“By 2025, our supply chain will not contribute to excess phosphate in the River Wye” – RePhoKUs considers that 80% of poultry manure should be exported out of the catchment, together with other very significant actions, to make Phosphorus input negative so that legacy pollution can be resolved. Avara’s plan for increase to 600t/week of exports will be only 20% of their manure production. It is not clear from this how Avara will ensure they do not contribute to excess Phosphous and no mention of how they will drive drawdown of legacy Phosphorus.

“Altogether, there is very little in their communication for us to be confident they will be able to achieve their aims. We encourage Avara to publicly share a detailed project plan including established technologies and committed timescales.

“We will be writing to Avara directly with our questions and look forward to sharing their response with our members and supporters. “