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U.K. poultry company faces legal claim for environmental degradation

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U.K. poultry company faces legal claim for environmental degradation

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In the United Kingdom (U.K.), a law firm has launched a legal claim on behalf of residents in the Wye valley against one of the country’s largest poultry companies.

The claim, which could potentially reach millions of pounds, is being brought against Avara Foods Ltd, according to law firm Leigh Day.

It alleges that commercial chicken farming carried out by Avara Foods is responsible for the degradation of the River Wye and its tributaries in recent years.

The law firm states that the cause of the degradation is phosphorus from manure produced on the company’s farms. It says that elevated levels of the mineral in the river water are causing excessive algal growth, which lead to unpleasant odors, insect swarms, loss of biodiversity, and declining water quality.

According to Leigh Day, Avara Foods is responsible for this environmental damage through the expansion of its chicken production in recent years, and therefore should clean up the River Wye and the surrounding land.

Furthermore, it says, the firm should pay “hundreds of millions of pounds to people and businesses whose lives, livelihoods, and enjoyment of the area have been impacted because of the effects of pollution.”

Leigh Day has invited people who live within the 4,000-square kilometer area around the Wye to join the claim for private and public nuisance.

With numbers running into tens of thousands, potential claimants are those whose land and property surrounds the river, and those who belong to nearby communities.

The river is the fourth longest in the U.K. For much of its 250km length, the Wye forms the border between the counties of Powys and Monmouthshire in Wales, and Herefordshire in western England. 

Avara Foods’ Sustainable Poultry Roadmap

The company has previously stated its commitment to play its part in the restoration of the River Wye.

However, Avara Foods has made it clear that it is not a direct contributor to river pollution. This, it explained, is because there is no contact between land and manure from its farms, unless it is used elsewhere in the catchment as fertilizer.

“Despite this, we recognize its potential impact, if used inappropriately,” it added.

Early last year, Avara Foods published a roadmap for sustainable poultry roadmap, and its plans were adapted to take effect earlier.

As part of this plan, the company provided an update on its progress to support the clean-up of the River Wye catchment area just last month.

Among the company’s stated achievements is that, from January of this year, 74% of Avara’s poultry manure is being “exported” out of the area. The remaining manure is included in a higher soil assurance standard pilot, it reports.

However, Avara Foods stresses that even these actions will have little impact on the health of the river if farms in the Wye catchment area replace its poultry manure with other fertilizers. 

More on Avara Foods

Annual slaughterings of 234 million poultry puts Avara Foods just outside the Top 10 largest poultry companies in Europe, according to WATTPoultry.com’s Top Poultry Companies survey.

Now the third largest producer of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in the U.K., the firm was founded in 2018 as a joint venture between Faccenda and Cargill’s U.K. poultry business.

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