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Council facing judicial review challenge over approval of plans to double size of poultry farm

A judicial review application has been made against Powys County Council over its decision to grant planning permission for the expansion of a poultry farm that is in the catchment area of a Special Area of Conservation.

The development will double the size of a poultry unit near Builth Wells in the River Wye catchment area from 90,000 birds to 180,000.

Fish Legal, an organisation focused on protecting inland and coastal waters in the UK from environmental damage, announced it had issued proceedings in the High Court late last month (27 April 2022).

In its announcement, it claimed that the council had not assessed the effect of tonnes of additional poultry manure that will be turned into digestate and spread on land in the River Wye catchment.

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The River Wye is designated as a Special Area of Conservation and supports species such as the river weed ranunculus, white-clawed crayfish, sea lamprey, brook lamprey, twaite shad, Atlantic salmon and allis shad.  

"[Currently] 60% of the River Wye and its catchment fail environmental targets for phosphates; a key pollutant that causes algal blooms on the river and adversely affects its ecology," Fish Legal said.

Councillors resolved that the application be granted consent at a planning committee meeting held on 17 March.

A manure management plan attached to the application states that all litter and all dirty water from "washdown" and "scrubbers" at the facility will be exported off-site to an anaerobic digester plant.

Responding to concerns over the manure expressed by the Brecon and Radnor Branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, a local charity, council officers said: "Concerns regarding the deposition of manure associated with the existing poultry units are not material to the consideration of the current application."

They added: "The intention for the proposed scheme is for manure to be exported to an [anerobic digester] plant whereas the applicant is permitted to spread the manure generated within the existing poultry units directly to land for agricultural benefit.

"On the basis that manure generated by the current proposal will be exported to an anerobic digester, it will not contribute directly to the existing spreading regime so officers consider that there would be no cumulative impact in this regard."

The council has confirmed that it intends to defend the claim but said it would not be appropriate to comment further as the proceedings are ongoing.

Adam Carey

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