Presteigne Dark Skies

Presteigne Dark Skies

Presteigne Dark Skies aims to put lighting design at the forefront of transforming Presteigne into the first International Dark Skies Association Dark Sky Community in England and Wales.  This will be done by using intelligent and sustainable lighting technology.

Lighting accounts for nearly 6% of the global CO2 emissions and 20% of the electricity used worldwide. Besides blighting the view of the night sky, inefficient lighting wastes over £1bn a year in the UK alone. Light pollution has drastic effects on the environment and well-being of all humans, animals and plants.  For example, Presteigne is home to the endangered Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros), which adversely changes its feeding patterns in response to bright street-lights.  Lighting alters our perception of the night and blocks our access to our oldest heritage, the stars.

The town’s night-time ambience and its residents suffer from Presteigne’s excessive and outdated lighting scheme. Many complain about light nuisance.  The good news is, with the help of the Town Council, Powys County Council have agreed to replace all street-lighting in Presteigne with new low energy ‘dark skies compliant’ lighting, starting in April 2021.  As a preamble to this, a demonstration of new ‘intelligent’ dark skies lighting took place in the vicinity of Broad Street and the High Street in March 21.

The Town Council aims to use a holistic approach to address several issues with the help of a new lighting masterplan. By employing the latest lighting and control technology, Presteigne will be able to reduce energy waste and reduce our impact on climate change, become wildlife friendly and an exemplary Dark Sky destination.  It will rejuvenate Presteigne’s night-time ambience and economy by attracting visitors interested in the dark sky experience.

The Presteigne dark skies street lighting trial has now been running for about a month. If you would like to let the Town Council have your views, email Presteigne and Norton Town Council on pntc@hotmail.com.

A video has been produced which illustrates Presteigne’s dark skies masterplan, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TqShuiTvx0&t=11s

If you would like to help Presteigne achieve International Dark Skies Community status, a crowdfunding site has been set up, see:  https://uk.gofundme.com/f/qsv9n-presteigne-dark-sky-masterplan

CALL FOR CITIZEN SCIENTISTS !!

CALL FOR CITIZEN SCIENTISTS !!

OUR RIVERS ARE FAILING.

Take a look at our new page (LINK HERE) and find out how you can befriend your local river and join us to use people-power to understand
what is happening and what we can do to save the Lugg and Upper Wye.
BRECON AND RADNOR CPRW is teaming up with RADNORSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST to organise monitoring of the Lugg streams and rivers. This complements monitoring of the main Wye being undertaken by FRIENDS OF THE UPPER WYE.
Both projects urgently need volunteers.

River Lugg, a tributary of the Wye, near Presteigne. Photo: Gareth Rees Roberts

Powys Poultry Shed Planning Applications

Powys Poultry Shed Planning Applications

Dear All,

Here is the latest update of Powys Poultry Shed Planning Applications since 2015. (Our interactive map can be found here.)

I trust that you will agree that the number of units and the fact that it is still increasing is cause for the most serious concern.

You may have seen the publicity over Ceredigion’s welcome refusal of one broiler application at Ty Nant, Talybont. Powys County Council (CC) has twenty one applications awaiting decision.

Following the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Planning Position Statement and Interim Planning Advice re protection of Special Areas of Conservation from excess phosphates, a number of Powys applicants have made submissions that Gamber (agricultural contractors near Hereford) will accept all manure for spreading elsewhere or feeding to Anaerobic Digesters. On 8/3/2021, NRW has approved one such plan for Dol y Dre (150,000 broilers added to existing 130,000 broilers) 20/1226/FUL.

One application has been approved (Pertheirin 19/1941/FUL).
One is at appeal (Forest View 18/0826/FUL).
One application was refused following the Planning Committee vote against the Officer’s recommendation to approve. Refused on landscape grounds (Frochass 19/0938/FUL).

SUMMARY OF POWYS SITUATION
There have been 167 applications since 1/7/2015.
1 was invalid (but applied for again and approved).
1 was withdrawn (but applied for again and approved).
6 were refused:

  • 1 was reapplied for, refused again and refused at Appeal (2 refusals)
  • 1 was reapplied for and approved
  • 1 was reapplied for and is still active
  • 1 is at Appeal
  • 1 was very recent (Feb. 2021)

There are 21 live applications:

  • 7 live applications in the Wye catchment
  • 14 live applications in Montgomery, north of the Wye catchment.

There have been many objections to the environmental impacts of these projects but Powys CC does not publish these. There have been many appeals for help to the Council, NRW and the Welsh Government.

The major factor in approval has been NRW’s statutory planning responses declaring satisfaction with each of the 138 applications approved.

We try to stick to the facts in these updates but no-one could deny that this is an astonishingly permissive record which continues against a background of biodiversity collapse, climate change emergency and increased understanding of pandemics.

Stay safe and well – we only wish our countryside could do the same.

Best wishes,

Dr Christine Hugh-Jones

Secretary: Brecon & Radnor Branch
Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales

BRANCH OBJECTION TO PROPOSED BROILER UNITS AT FROCHAS FARM, WELSHPOOL

BRANCH OBJECTION TO PROPOSED BROILER UNITS AT FROCHAS FARM, WELSHPOOL


The Brecon & Radnor branch has submitted an objection to planning application 19/0938/FUL, a proposal for three poultry units to house 150,000 broiler chickens. The application, which has drawn much local opposition, is to be determined by the Planning Committee on Thursday 4th February. The Planning Officer is recommending approval. Our objection draws attention to serious deficiencies in the planning application information, and significant errors and omissions in the Planning Officer’s report to the members of the Planning Committee. Read the objection HERE.

Branch objection to proposed broiler units at Frochas Farm, Welshpool

Branch objection to proposed broiler units at Frochas Farm, Welshpool

The Brecon & Radnor branch has submitted an objection to planning application 19/0938/FUL, a proposal for three poultry units to house 150,000 broiler chickens. The application, which has drawn much local opposition, is to be determined by the Planning Committee on Thursday 4th February. The Planning Officer is recommending approval. Our objection draws attention to serious deficiencies in the planning application information, and significant errors and omissions in the Planning Officer’s report to the members of the Planning Committee. Read the objection HERE.

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.

INTENSIVE POULTRY AND PIG DEVELOPMENTS AND CPRW RESPONSE TO NRW CONSULTATION ON AMMONIA AND NITROGEN

INTENSIVE POULTRY AND PIG DEVELOPMENTS AND CPRW RESPONSE TO NRW CONSULTATION ON AMMONIA AND NITROGEN

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: https://www.campaigns.nfuonline.com/page/56262/petition/1?locale=en-GB

INTENSIVE FARMING IN WALES IN A POST COVID 19 WORLD

INTENSIVE FARMING IN WALES IN A POST COVID 19 WORLD

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) www.brecon-and-radnor-cprw.wales (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 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/08/african-swine-fever-outbreak-reported-in-western-poland?fbclid=IwAR3nGgrq6rZTONGN82pR97sSLwGHAJ-ngQVIk-0qcpXR5EZPc-PTb_s_WJM (8) Reuters 13th April 2020 https://www.reuters.com/article/china-swinefever/china-reports-african-swine-fever-cases-in-gansu-shaanxi-provinces-idUSL3N2C10R0 (9) PBS News Hour 10th April 2020 https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/industry-scrambles-to-stop-fatal-bird-flu-in-south-carolina