A legal claim potentially worth hundreds of millions of pounds has been launched by law firm Leigh Day in a bid to compensate thousands of people living in the Wye catchment likely to have been affected by a major degradation of the River Wye and its tributaries in recent years.    The claim will be brought against Avara Foods Limited, one of the UK’s biggest food producers, alleging that industrial scale chicken farming in the River Wye catchment area is polluting the River Wye and surrounding land. Evidence shows the operations of Avara Foods to supply UK supermarkets has been the overwhelming cause of phosphorous pollution which is damaging the River Wye, says Leigh Day.    Avara has said that it will cease polluting the river in the future. However, Leigh Day will argue that Avara Foods is responsible for the damage that has already been caused and should clean up the River Wye and the surrounding land, as well as pay hundreds of millions of pounds to people and businesses whose lives, livelihoods and enjoyment of the area has been impacted because of the effects of pollution.

  People from Powys, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire can join the claim and will include people whose land and property surrounds the River Wye.

Protest on the Wye
Protest on the Wye (Supplied)

People who belong to the community surrounding the Wye – potentially tens of thousands of claimants - can also join the action.

The claimants will include people affected by the pollution such as swimmers, canoeists, walkers, clubs, anglers and businesses whose lives and trade has been hit by the worsening condition of the river.

Last year the river was downgraded to “unfavourable – declining” status by the government nature watchdog Natural England. This is only two stages away from being listed as “destroyed”.    The claim will allege that the scale of the operations of large corporate poultry producers is generating significant quantities of phosphorous-rich manure which leach into the soil and into the river. This leads to algal blooms which reduce water quality.  

Avara Foods is a UK subsidiary of US multinational Cargill Plc which has faced similar claims in the US as a result of polluting the Illinois River due to the same practice of high intensive poultry farming. 

Photo of Algal bloom (Phil Wilson)
Photo of Algal bloom (Phil Wilson) (Photo of Algal bloom (Phil Wilson))