NRW report on the River Wye and phosphates

NRW report on the River Wye and phosphates

On 17th December 2020 NRW published the long awaited ‘Compliance assessment of the River Wye SAC against phosphorus targets’. The report concludes that over 60% of the River Wye and its catchments fail against phosphate limits.

NRW will be working with local planning authorities, including Powys, with a view to ensuring that proposed new developments which have the potential to increase phosphate levels in the river and its catchments are not approved unless they can demonstrate phosphate neutrality or betterment. The Regulatory Position Statement and Planning Position Statement provide some further information but specific advice on the assessment of planning proposals in relation to phosphates is still in development.

The report does not identify the major sources of the Wye’s excess phosphate and NRW state that in the accompanying press release they have not found a direct connection between phosphate levels and the rapid increase in recent years in the numbers of poultry units in the catchment. This is not surprising given the complex and various pathways by which phosphates may reach river waters and the potential for ‘legacy phosphate’ built up in soils over time to leach into rivers years later. However, the most recent modelling carried out by the Environment Agency attributes 66% of phosphates in the cross-border Upper Wye and Lugg sub-catchments to arable and livestock farming, 25% to sewage treatment works, with the remaining 9% attributed to other sources including highways, urban areas, industry, combined sewer overflows and other sources of sewage.



New website pages: Please have a look at our new pages in the poultry section of the website. These include a new page summarising (very briefly) environmental impacts of intensive pig and poultry rearing, which current Welsh legislation, regulation and guidance is failing to adequately address, and planning considerations. We have included best available data on the intensive pig industry in the county.

Intensive poultry farm

Consultation response: CPRW response to Natural Resources Wales’ consultation on changes to the guidance for assessment of ammonia and nitrogen from agricultural developments is now available to read on the Welsh Government Consultations page. CPRW welcomes the intention underlying the changes proposed but considers that protections offered by the draft guidance as it stands won’t go far enough to protect vulnerable habitats and species.

Poultry, rivers and pandemics

Poultry, rivers and pandemics

Early signs of algal blooms at Llanstephan, Powys (between Builth Wells and Hay-on-Wye) April 2020. Photo credit: Wye and Usk Foundation

POWYS RIVERS: CPRW Brecon & Radnor has been campaigning for a number of years for proper assessment of the environmental impacts of poultry farms. In October 2016 we held our first public Annual Seminar Day ‘Ponds, Rivers & Poultry’ chaired by Professor Steve Ormerod, to look at impacts of intensive poultry farming on water. Our new page looks at the development of the industry in the county since, the roles of Powys County Council, Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Government, and our campaign.

Intensive poultry farm

PANDEMICS: We look at the role of the intensive pig and poultry industries in increasing the risk of the next pandemic and what urgently needs to be done to reduce that risk.

Please support the NFU petition on food standards

Please support the NFU petition on food standards

Trade talks are taking place with the US and it is reported that the UK may agree to the imports of US produced foods  which do not meet UK food standards . While UK environmental and food standards have room for improvement, we fully support this important NFU petition to the UK government to create law to prevent the import of foods which would be illegal to produce here:



At the time of writing, in early April 2020, viral pandemic is sweeping the world with devastating impact. The strengths and weaknesses of our societies and political institutions are being laid bare, and we hope it’s not naïve to hope that alongside the work of recovery, when this is all over, there will be a long overdue reappraisal of political priorities. This article looks at just one hugely important mid Wales issue, central to CPRW’s remit.

CPRW Brecon & Radnor has long opposed Welsh Government’s uncritical support for intensive livestock farming, and the lack of effective environmental regulation. Our campaign has, till now, focussed on the environmental costs: ammonia and phosphate pollution, habitat degradation, harms to ancient woodlands, amenity and landscape, damage to soils, increasing volumes of traffic and health risks to close neighbours. By contrast government’s focus has rested solely on economic benefit to the farmer, though without taking into account economic fallout for other local businesses, such as tourism enterprises. Nor the demotion of independent Welsh farmers to contractors for profit-driven multinational corporations. The branch has been active in mapping the extent of the intensive poultry industry in Powys, and in discussing concerns with the local authority and Natural Resources Wales (1). The branch is also involved in the WG working group looking at planning guidance for new developments, and has, through the WG Petitions Committee, put concerns to Welsh ministers, though without having yet received any adequate response. Health risks associated with intensive livestock farming haven’t to date been a major focus of the campaign.

But there is scientific consensus that the health risks of intensive livestock farming are serious, and Covid 19 is a sharp and tragic reminder of the dangers of prioritising short term economic benefits at the expense of human, animal and environmental health. Though we don’t know yet exactly how the Covid 19 virus passed to humans, it seems almost certain that the virus originated in wild bat populations. It is not the first animal virus to have jumped to humans, just the first, in the last hundred years at least, to have such global reach. Since the intensive model of livestock farming emerged from the US in the post war decades, the frequency of such outbreaks has increased (2). While there has not been another bird flu pandemic since 1918, in recent decades there have been frequent bird flu outbreaks and the more dangerous strains are considered a potential pandemic threat.

We are not off the hook because we don’t, in Wales, have an equivalent of the ‘wet markets’ of the Far East. Intensive poultry units are near perfect incubators for viruses, providing regularly replenished populations of weakened, immune compromised, and genetically similar hosts. A concentration of intensive livestock units within a geographical area heightens the risks (3). Powys is now home to approaching 10 million poultry, housed on several hundred farms across the county, the majority of them below the threshold for environmental permit (4). Intensive pig farms, many of them under the planning radar, have also now arrived in Powys, sometimes on sites adjacent to intensive poultry units. Pigs, being susceptible to both bird and human flu viruses, can provide the perfect intermediary host for a bird flu virus to become an effective human pathogen.

The expansion of the intensive livestock model across the globe and associated pollution has caused widespread environmental degradation. And mouths need feeding: huge swathes of natural habitat have been destroyed to create farmland for the growing of feedcrops (5). This degradation and loss of habitat forces wild animal and bird populations into ever closer contact with humans, creating further opportunities for infection. Research also suggests that reduced biodiversity and ecosystem damage has the potential to increase disease transmission and emergence of new pathogens (6).

The last few days alone have seen outbreaks of swine fever, with the potential to transmit to humans, in western Poland (7) and in Gansu and Shanxii provinces in northern China (8), and highly pathogenic bird flu in a turkey flock in South Carolina (9).

At the same time intensive livestock farming poses the risk of increasing immunity to known antibiotics, essential to modern medicine. Routine use of low doses of antibiotics to compensate for husbandry and genetic deficiencies are one of the causes of an increase in resistant bacteria, and, alarmingly, exposure to one particular antibiotic can enable bacteria to establish immunity not only to that drug but to a raft of others as well.

This article doesn’t touch on issues of food security, resilience of supply and just reward for farmers, which recent weeks have shown also need urgent attention. But on grounds of the health risks alone, it is time surely for a radical rethink about the kind of farming Welsh Government wants to support, and the urgent prioritisation of the protection of our environment and biodiversity.

Notes: (1) (2) Among them Ebola (1976), HIV (1981), SARS (2003), MERS (2012), Nipah (2018), multiple outbreaks of various strains of bird flu, swine fever and now Covid 19. Years are years of first identification or first case of human infection. (3) See ‘The Role of Intensive Poultry Industry in the Spread of Avian Influenza’ CIWF 2007 (4) Welsh Government official statistics give the number of poultry in the Whole of Wales, in June 2018, as 10 million, suggesting that government has no idea of the scale of the industry across the country. (5) The calorific value of feedcrops is several multiples that of the meat or eggs produced. Intensive livestock farming cannot make a positive contribution to feeding the world’s growing population. (6) ‘Impacts of biodiversity on the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases’ Keesing, Belden et al. (Nature 468). (7) Guardian 8th April 2020 (8) Reuters 13th April 2020 (9) PBS News Hour 10th April 2020

Woodlands of Wales Seminar – Videos

Woodlands of Wales Seminar – Videos

Take a (virtual) walk in the Welsh woods, in the company of the experts who spoke at our recent Trees and Woodlands of Wales day in November 2019.

We’re introducing a new Videos area, in the Gallery section of the website. Our launch is now live, with an audio slideshow of Dr. George Peterken’s talk introducing the Woodlands of Wales. And we’ll be rolling out the rest of the talks on an approximately fortnightly basis, so keep checking the website and our Facebook page for the rest of the series – and be sure to share the videos with anyone who loves woodlands!



Hendy Wind Farm: We were so busy dealing with the catastrophic implications of the Draft NDF (see below) that it overshadowed the rejection of our Appeal against the Hendy decision in London at the end of November. While this is a bitter blow for us and for all of you who have so generously donated towards our David and Goliath attempt to stop this folly, a show of determination and the knowledge and experience gained is never wasted. Thank you again for your support.

On the ground, the fight with these opportunistic Hendy developers is continuing as they try to discharge planning conditions and construct the remaining turbines. The single second-hand turbine (T5), installed in January 2019 to beat the ROCs subsidy deadline, remains static. T5 was built using an unlawful access off the A44 and without discharging any of the pre-construction conditions.

Various conditions still remain to be discharged and no Commons Land consent has been approved. Powys has refused the application to alter planning Condition 7 which says a turbine that does not turn for 6 months must come down but, disappointingly, they have not enforced removal of the turbine and will not explain this. Nor will Ofgem explain how a last-minute application for a subsidy can be approved when there is no windfarm, no grid connection and no electricity a whole year later!
Meanwhile, the Developer has submitted an application for retrospective permission for the new access (19/1709/FUL) which will eventually come before the Planning Committee.

Could Powys County Council Planning Department be starting to realise that in allowing Hendy Wind Farm to ride roughshod over all planning preconditions and commons rights, they are bringing Welsh Planning and the entire wind industry into disrepute?

Meanwhile, the Bryn Blaen development completed two years ago has yet to make any significant contribution to the National Grid.

Welsh Government Consultation on draft National Development Framework: Together with Landscape Consultant Geoffrey Sinclair (from CPRW Pembrokeshire Branch), your Branch prepared CPRW’s National response to the NDF, which was submitted just before Christmas. Our argument is that we are NOT opposed to all wind-farms but that these should be sited appropriately and that offshore wind (a technology where the UK is a world leader) should clearly be a big part of the mix.

Instead of providing a transparent assessment of future energy needs, and options for meeting them, the NDF assumed that all Wales’ projected renewable energy ambitions would be met onshore. This would be achieved by designating one fifth of Welsh land outside national parks as priority areas, with a presumption of approval for wind farms of turbines up to 250m high and expansive solar arrays all with visual impact throughout Wales. The NDF proposals have been slammed for their poor methodology and implications for landscape, biodiversity, tourism and rural communities.

Natural Resources Wales Area Statements: Perplexingly, at the same time as the NDF was being rolled out, the NRW Area Statements are being prepared with a succession of incoherent discussion meetings where ‘ideas are being sought’ from bemused and apprehensive environmental stakeholders and residents. These statements are supposed to be enshrined as the guiding tenets for future planning decisions, but they are so behind-hand that they will be published this Spring as hotch-potch lists of aspirations with no accompanying spatial planning. They will be subject to the NDF and intimately linked with the new farm payments system and agricultural pollution measures, none of which have been announced. Let’s hope somebody in the Welsh Government knows what is going on.

Readers will recall that NRW (Natural Resources Wales) is the only statutory body responsible for the protection of our natural environment and sustainable management of our natural resources. NRW was drastically re-organised in 2019. We were much encouraged that NRW’s Chief Executive Claire Pillman spoke out in September against the M4 Newport extension, against which CPRW Gwent has campaigned so successfully, so there may be hope yet.

Intensive Poultry Units: Elsewhere, we are continuing our monitoring and mapping of intensive poultry units in Powys and following-up our petition to the Welsh Assembly to regulate these. We have obtained a place on the national planning Intensive Agriculture Working Group and are engaging with NRW, Powys Planning and the cross-border Wye River Nutrient Management body to protect our precious river systems.

Our petition to ensure that planning objections are made available online by Powys County Council (as they are by all neighbouring councils) attracted an impressive 500 local signatures. We will continue to fight for democracy in Powys Planning. The reluctant Council continues to cite cost and ‘data protection concerns’ as it plans to shrink the Planning Department in 2020.

Other Branch news & nominations sought for Branch awards: Alongside these struggles, we hope to bring some enjoyment and reflection on our countryside through our yearly Seminar Days and countryside prizes. We were delighted to see such a wide audience of members at the Trees and Woodlands day we held with the Welsh Woodlands Trust in November.

We ask you to help us with nominees for our Brecon & Radnor Rural Wales and Louis Hurley Awards this year. The Rural Wales award recognises people and organisations who go above and beyond to protect the environment or promote our rich heritage. The Louis Hurley Award is given for particularly good and recent examples of new builds or restorations which enhance the existing local landscape/townscape, and in the case of a restoration/extension, work well with the existing original building.

In the coming year, our branch is eager to seize any opportunities to mitigate the impacts of Brexit, Climate Change and disastrous Biodiversity decline on our Welsh countryside and communities. We cannot do this without your knowledge and encouragement.

We are also hoping to obtain better central resources at CPRW this year. Nationally we only have one employee in Carys at head office: the rest of the work is undertaken by our dedicated volunteers, and is only made possible with your support.

Jonathan Colchester
Chair, Brecon & Radnor Branch,
Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales Registered charity number 239899

Petition to ask Powys County Council to Publish Third-party Comments on Planning Applications on their Website

Petition to ask Powys County Council to Publish Third-party Comments on Planning Applications on their Website

In December 2018, Powys County Council stopped publishing comments from “third-parties” on their planning website, with a review due in December 2019.

“Third-parties” are local people and other Powys residents and environmental or other stakeholder organisations. They often have important evidence for or against planning applications which should be taken into account. Third-party comments show us the extent and reasons for public concern.

Their comments should be available on the internet for EVERYONE, including Planning Committee Members, to see. Other councils manage to show third-party comments.

Why can’t Powys County Council?

The poor alternatives of having to drive or take public transport to view files in Llandrindod Wells, or asking for third-party comments by email, penalise the public and are simply not working.

We have set up a Petition to Powys County Council on our website. Please visit and sign to make your voice heard and get Powys County Council to restore some of our democratic rights.

You will find links to more background information on this Planning Application issue on the petition page.

Thank you.

And just a quick reminder of our Trees and Woodlands Seminar in Llandrindod Wells on Sunday 11 November. Hope to see you there.

Welsh Government Consultation: National Development Framework

Welsh Government Consultation: National Development Framework

Welsh Government’s draft National Development Framework is out for public consultation: closing date 15th November.

It has been immensely time-consuming and difficult to first track down and then trawl through the myriad of documents in various locations on the Welsh Government website. Please see new website page, Responding to the Welsh Government NDF consultation: Some Key Points’, summarising what we believe to be key problems with the draft NDF proposals, and intended to provide a useful and time-saving resource to aid response to this important consultation. More detailed considerations are available as a pdf download on the same page. This new page supplements existing pages which  contain a summary of the role of the NDF and general concerns with the proposals, and detailed maps of renewable energy ‘Priority Areas’.


Action Alert: September 2019 – Save our Welsh Countryside!

Action Alert: September 2019 – Save our Welsh Countryside!

Action Alert: September 2019

Save our Welsh Countryside!

The Welsh Government’s draft National Development Framework (NDF) contains expanded renewable energy plans to industrialise vast new areas of our countryside

The draft NDF is going through a consultation process.
This will be your only opportunity.

[Some guidelines which may help you on making your response can be found here.]

The proposals set new Priority Areas sweeping across large parts of Wales – to be allocated for further wind farms and solar arrays as shown on the map below. Within them, landscape change will be accepted and there will be a presumption of planning approval. All projects over 10 megawatts will be decided by the Welsh Government, and other rural assets – including biodiversity – will be compromised.

Public Consultation documents, response form & online response link:

Here is how consultants ARUP have developed these plans for the Welsh Government:
CPRW considers this to be a flawed methodology.

CPRW accepts the need for renewable energy in the right place and supports economic development in rural areas, but this does not justify widespread industrialisation and irrational destruction of our landscapes. Visitor surveys show that people come to enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of our unspoilt landscapes. Tourism is growing rapidly and helps sustain rural economies and farm livelihoods.

Please look at how the plans affect your area and make your views known by responding to the consultation, and do please write to the Press, your Councillors, your AM and your MP. Thank you.

For more information, additional maps and links to documents see

Wind and Solar Priority Areas

You may view a larger version of, or download, the map as a PDF by clicking on the map or right-clicking and selecting “Save target as” or equivalent.