Caught by the River

The River Wye is under threat

7th March 2023

Just 4 days and 7-odd-grand to go on The Good Law Project’s fundraiser to help save the River Wye from the impacts of agricultural pollution.

They write:

Flowing across the border between England and Wales, the River Wye is one of our most beautiful and precious waterways. But it is dying because of the impacts of agricultural pollution. Run-off and slurry from intensive farming in Powys and Herefordshire is spilling into the river, degrading the habitats of a range of internationally important species.

The latest serious threat is from a new farming development on the banks of the River Dore, which is a tributary whose waters run into the River Wye. Good Law Project is now supporting a legal bid to stop this from going ahead.

The plans, which have been given the green light by Herefordshire Council, will see the expansion of Bage Court Farm in the village of Dorstone, including the construction of a giant new livestock shed. The increase in manure run-off generated by this development will see yet more ecological damage inflicted on the Dore and by extension, the River Wye.

Disappointingly and frustratingly, the hard-fought legal efforts of campaigners so far – led by local resident, David Sahota – have been unsuccessful. The High Court and the Court of Appeal have both endorsed Herefordshire Council’s rubber-stamping of the Bage Court Farm development.

Good Law Project is supporting campaigners to challenge, and hopefully overturn, these decisions in the Supreme Court.

We are anxious to protect the Dore and the Wye – designated as a Special Area of Conservation – but we also think the case raises a very important point of principle.

EU environmental law contains a precautionary principle, about how you manage risk. It says that where environmental harm is uncertain you don’t have to wait until that harm is evident before you act. It is an important principle of EU law – after all, we don’t have another planet if we destroy this one – but it is not clear whether it is part of UK law after Brexit.

To progress to a full appeal, the Supreme Court first needs to be convinced that the issues raised by this case are of “general public importance”. This is a high bar – the Supreme Court takes on only a few cases each year – but we are advised this case meets it.

Success would have national implications by raising the bar before new livestock developments are approved. This will help to protect our rivers and waterways for generations to come.

The costs of asking the Supreme Court for permission, including Crowdjustice costs and a 10% contribution to Good Law Project, will be about £20,000. If we obtain permission the costs of the appeal, including a possible intervention, will be a further £30,000. The noted vegan and ecologist, Mr Dale Vince has generously agreed to match every pound donated to this crowdfunder, up to £40,000, to support Good Law Project’s work in the environmental field – so every pound you give up to that figure counts double.

Don’t dally! Make your contribution here.