The Farming Minister has announced a new plan to better protect and preserve the River Wye for future generations, including up to £35 million in funding and the appointment of a new ‘River Champion’ and taskforce.

The River Wye and its surrounding area is cherished by residents and visitors, however, the condition of the river is declining due to pressures including climate change, invasive species, and pollution from various sources, including from farms across the catchment area. The government is working at pace to intervene after the condition of the River Wye Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which covers the stretch of the river in England, was downgraded to ‘Unfavourable – Declining’ last year.

The River Wye Action Plan sets out a range of measures to begin protecting the river immediately from pollution and establish long-term plans to restore it for future generations. This includes requiring large poultry farms to export manure away from areas where they would otherwise cause excess pollution and providing up to £35m in grant support for on-farm poultry manure combustors in the Wye Special Area of Conservation catchment to facilitate the export of poultry litter to where it is needed.

Combusting poultry manure provides a source of renewable energy and converts manure to a nutrient rich ash, which is a valuable fertiliser that is easier to transport and use on farms – reducing risk to the environment. Any new combustion units will need approval and we will work with local stakeholders and regulators to ensure robust assessments for protection of the environment and human health.

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