A number of rivers in Wales are currently suffering catastrophic impacts from high levels of nutrients. These nutrients enter from two main sources: agriculture and sewage discharges.

In 2021, NRW published revised assessment of monitoring data for SAC rivers in Wales which showed that 60% of SAC rivers are now failing their phosphorus targets. These include the Clwyd, Dee, Teifi, Cleddau and the Usk.

Of particular concern, is the impact from a growing number of intensive poultry units (known as IPUs) which dominate agriculture in the river Wye and are expanding rapidly. This river has suffered increasingly severe algal blooms and deteriorating ecology.

This has led to the following actions:

  • NRW has now applied planning restrictions on all development which impacts a SAC river. All development (agricultural or housing) must provide a phosphorus balance to offset the additional phosphorus posed by the development. Development should not be approved if this is not in place.
  • NRW must produce a position statement on Nutrient Offsetting and develop the required policies to underpin it. We are concerned by the delay in this and the long-term impact that continues on our rivers.