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  • by Karma Loveday

River Action to appeal Wye pollution judgement

Campaign group River Action has applied to appeal the May High Court decision on agricultural pollution in the River Wye.


Mr Justice Dove ruled that the Environment Agency’s (EA) Farming Rules for Water enforcement on the River Wye is now lawful – having changed as a result of and during the proceedings of the case. These regulations govern the amount of organic manure and artificial fertiliser that can be spread on agricultural land. In the Wye catchment, where agricultural production is intense, this is causing widespread algal blooms with severe consequences for the vegetation and wildlife.


Chair and founder of River Action, Charles Watson, said: “We remain deeply concerned that insufficient regulatory action is being taken to protect the River Wye from widespread pollution caused by unsustainable intensive agricultural practices. Because of this, one of the most highly protected rivers in the UK faces ecological collapse. We will therefore continue our legal fight to save the River Wye.”


River Action is taking the following six actions:

  • Appealing the ‘lawful’ decision. 

  • Establishing an independent audit process of all ongoing EA enforcement activity within the Wye catchment in relation to the application of the Farming Rules for Water.

  • Investigating widespread environmental non-compliance within the Wye’s free-range egg industry.

  • Investigating the EA’s response and attendance levels at pollution incidents – it has issued Environmental Information Requests. 

  • Challenging the current Defra guidance with regard to enforcement of the Farming Rules for Water.

  • Calling for the transparent publication by the EA of all information relating to pollution incidents and the consequential enforcement of environmental regulations, to mirror real time data now published by water companies regarding sewage spills.


The campaign group added: “River Action is currently reviewing a number of further opportunities with regards to taking legal action where evidence is apparent of regulatory bodies failing to fulfil their statutory duties to enforce the law.”

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