AUGUST 2017 UPDATE FOR DELEGATES TO OUR ‘PONDS, RIVERS AND POULTRY’ SEMINAR ON 29/10/16
Powys Local Development Plan (LDP) – Intensive Livestock Policy
We reported in our update of 12th May that the Inspector conducting the examination of the Powys LDP had requested that CPRW Brecon & Radnor submit a draft policy to guide the determination of Intensive Livestock Unit (ILU) applications. We did so, after researching other authorities’ policies, and taking appropriate legal and other advice. Our suggested policy can be found under ref ED069 on this link. Despite the confusion that has to date characterised Powys’s determination of these applications, the Council is still maintaining that there is nothing to be gained by the inclusion of an ILU policy. We believe a policy setting out the key material planning considerations would give greater clarity to both applicants and neighbours to potential developments and be an aid to better decision making by planners. We presume that this policy will not be included in the Matters Arising Changes which will be published for public consultation on 19th September but the Inspector has made it clear that she has not yet decided whether the LDP is sound without an ILU policy.
Please see here for our summary of the progress of the Powys LDP.
CPRW Brecon & Radnor Mapping of Intensive Poultry Units in Powys
We have updated our online intensive poultry map as of 14th July. As ever, we have prepared the map in good faith and data is obtained from Powys planning portal. Please let us know if you spot any errors.
Agricultural Air Pollution: Countryfile Report and CPRW B&R Discussions with Natural Resources Wales
BBC Countryfile (30th July) contained a report which dealt not only with the pollution impacts of ammonia on plant communities, but also explained the interaction between ammonia pollution and traffic fumes to produce particulates which can cause serious breathing problems. Countryfile presenter Tom Heap stated that, in Northern Europe, agriculture is now a primary source of air pollution. Intensive poultry units are major sources of ammonia pollution and ammonia deposition and its impacts on designated sites are considered in the determination of ILU applications. Powys planners have not yet accepted the need to consider human health impacts of ammonia or other emissions such as poultry dust.
Rural air pollution has tended to be overlooked by politicians, both here in Wales and in Westminster. We, along with many individuals and other NGOs, have for some time been making the case in Welsh Government consultation responses and elsewhere, for the need to address rural air pollution and its human health and other impacts. We hope that the public airing of this issue will move it further up the political agenda.
Concerning ammonia deposition and its environmental impacts, we were very encouraged to learn at a meeting with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in June how seriously NRW experts are addressing the issue. Ammonia emissions from ILUs are now more strictly controlled in Wales than in England, as reported in our update of 12th May. It was encouraging too that NRW confirmed at this meeting that their consultee responses to ILU applications will address, where these are brought to NRW’s attention, impacts on rare features whether or not these occur within a designated site.
We attach NRW response to application E/34266 for ILU for 32,000 free range chickens near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. In addition to comments on impacts of ammonia on sensitive species, NRW also noted that the applicant’s ammonia report applied a modelling input value for ammonia emissions from the ranging area which is well below DEFRA’s recommended value.
Agricultural water Pollution
Following the appalling recent series of incidents of serious pollution to Welsh rivers, mostly related to slurry leaks from anaerobic digesters or slurry pits, Natural Resources Wales are now taking up the matter with the Environment Minister, Leslie Griffiths. See here. This is very welcome, but we would like to see a similar acknowledgement of the problems faced here in Powys with diffuse pollution from the proliferation of ILUs across the county. We hope recognition of diffuse pollution problems will follow and will continue to highlight this issue.
Natural Resources Wales Pollution Hotline
The NRW incident hotline to report pollution incidents, including concerns over runoff into waterways, manure/slurry infringements etc., is 03000 65 3000. Alternatively, incidents can be reported to team leaders Caroline Moscrop for Radnorshire (03000 655204) or David Lee for Montgomeryshire (03000 65 3823).
The High Cost of Cheap Food
The Sustainable Food Trust have just published ‘The True Cost of American Food – Conference proceedings’, a summary of proceedings of a conference held last year. America was one of the first countries to intensify food production, and one of the first to experience the negative impacts. Among the hidden costs of intensive food production discussed in the report are:
- Costs of pollution of ground and surface waters by nitrates and agro-chemicals;
- Human health impacts as a result of air pollution from ILUs;
- Loss of biodiversity;
- Soil degradation and erosion;
- Human health costs to employees.
Intensive livestock farming in the news
We are very sympathetic towards the uncertain and challenging situation facing our Powys farmers, and have no doubt many farmers will be at least as concerned as any other residents about environmental damage which may result from intensive livestock farming. We want our politicians and regulators to establish a protective regime which is fit for purpose and provides clarity for all parties. There is no doubt that intensive livestock farming presents considerable environmental risks, and as the numbers of ILUs in Powys increase it’s essential that impacts are properly considered and the capacity of the local environment to bear further pollutant emissions without damage is central to decisions to approve development applications.
Concerning the rapid expansion of intensive livestock farming across the UK and its impacts, the Guardian newspaper has recently published a series of articles, co-written with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. See links:
The map below is taken from the first article above. The majority of applications within Powys are for ILUs that fall below (in total numbers of birds) the Environmental Permitting thresholds and are therefore not reflected on this map. Even so, the concentration of poultry developments in Powys, Herefordshire and Shropshire is all too clear.
A similar map, searchable by county and ILU type (dairy, eggs, meat chickens and pigs) has been produced by Compassion in World Farming – see here. Note that this map does not include ILUs below permitted thresholds or intensive free-range units.