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Wye Photo By Leigh Day

River Wye local residents speak out about how pollution is affecting their lives

Four people living near the River Wye share their stories about the degradation of their beloved river and how their lifestyles and businesses have been impacted by the pollution allegedly caused by chicken producers.

Posted on 20 March 2024

Leigh Day launched a group legal claim against chicken producers Avara Foods on Tuesday 19 March with the aim of achieving compensation for residents of the Wye catchment area who are likely to have been affected by major degradation of the river in recent years.  
 
Adam Fisher 


Adam Fisher lives in the Wye area and runs Angling Dreams in Ross on Wye, offering day fishing tickets and guided angling on the Wye. 
  
He has lived in the area all his life and as a child used to swim in the river and even drink the water. Now, he says in summer, following an algae bloom the river smells bad and is not pleasant to be around. 
  
His business has been affected by the change in the Wye, with anglers preferring to fish in the autumn when there is no risk of a stench from the river. 
  
Adam said: 
  
“When I was a kid, in the summer I would swim in the river and boil kettles from it to drink. Now I would not bathe a dog in it. 
  
“It’s treated like a water park, but the image of beautiful clean water in the Wye has vanished. We are told there is nothing wrong with it, but that’s just contradictory. 
  
“My takings have dropped because of the state of the river. My customers now choose to fish at different times of year to avoid the algae blooms and stench. They choose to come in the autumn or not at all any more.” 
 


Adam Fisher.


Mark Hubbard
 
Mark Hubbard, aged 59, owns Fodder Wholefoods in Hereford. He lives in a medieval property, part of Hereford Castle, with a 55m river frontage. The property has been in his family for 100 years. A reed bed that used to flower below the wall of the property on the bank of the Wye has now gone and only slime and sludge remains. 
 
Mark said: 
  
“I have spent seven years trying to get (the council/Avara) to stop pushing chicken sheds into the Wye Valley. I am furious about what has happened to the River Wye.” 
 

Mark Hubbard.

    
Pete Redding


Pete Redding, aged 55, of Hereford, has enjoyed swimming, paddling and canoeing on the River Wye since he was a teenager. After living abroad, 15 years ago he returned to the UK and chose to live in Hereford to be near mountains and forests, but especially the Wye. 
  
Pete is a keen coracler and used to find that the ancient craft of making and paddling in his coracle was a great relief for anxiety and depression. After work he would regularly spend two hours a day in his coracle on the Hereford city stretches of the Wye. 
  
Now Pete says the state of the Wye actually feeds his depression instead of easing it. 
  
Pete said: 
  
“Over the last 10 years the river has deteriorated. I live near the Bassom, a big bend in the river. I used to go down every day and paddle for two hours, it was really good for my mental health. To get out there and immerse myself in nature did me good. But now I find I get off the river angry. 
  
“There used to be three sets of breeding swans, but I have seen no cygnets for the past three years. 
  
“Rather than seeing sparkling pebbles under the water, all we see now is grey sludge. 

“I believe part of the reason is the increase in chicken production. Since the sheds have opened, very obviously the biodiversity of the river has dropped off.  
  
“The water crowfoot used to be beautiful, it used to cover the river, the fish would feed off it. Now it has gone, I have not seen the flowers for a long time. 
  
“I used to build coracles to encourage others to enjoy the river. But now if I see kids on the river I tell them to get off because of the sludge.” 

 


Pete Redding.
  

ANONYMOUS 
  
A 53-year-old Monmouth resident who used to kayak regularly in the River Wye at Ross and Kerne Bridge told Leigh Day: 
  
“I have lived in this area for 30 years. When I first used to kayak in the River Wye in the 1990s the water was crystal clear. There was a white flower in water reeds that grew in abundance and covered the surface of the water in spring and summer, there were beds and beds that would grow. 
  
“It is about eight to 10 years since I saw the plant growing in that way. It is nothing like it used to be. I stopped kayaking in the Wye because of the pollution and I can’t travel anywhere else to kayak because the journey would be so long that it ruins the day.” 
 
Find out more about the claim here
 

Group Claim
Wye Valley

River Wye claim

Claim against: Avara Foods Limited

Leigh Day is bringing a group legal action against Avara Foods Limited over allegations that they polluted the River Wye region.

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River Wye join the claim

News Article
Wye Photo By Leigh Day
Environment River Wye Group claims

Multi-million-pound legal claim launched to compensate people living near River Wye for pollution allegedly caused by chicken producers

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.