Judicial review rejected after government taken to court over chicken poo in River Wye

A judicial review has been rejected after a legal challenge against the UK government over a river's chicken poo pollution.

Environmental charity River Action UK took the government's Environment Agency (EA) to court over its alleged failure to enforce regulations to protect the River Wye from pollution.

The river is around 150 miles long and mainly flows along the border between England and Wales.

Lawyers for the EA rejected claims it had not taken action and said warning letters had been sent out to those who may have been in breach of the regulations.

In a judgment handed down remotely on Friday, Mr Justice Dove found the EA had improved its enforcement of the Farming Rules for Water.

He consequently dismissed the claim for a judicial review.

River Action UK are considering appealing the judgment but said they have "a number of reasons to be pleased".

Appeal under consideration

"We remain concerned that there is widespread evidence that agricultural regulations are still being broken across the Wye Catchment and that the EA is still not being held accountable for its failure to enforce the law," the charity's chair and founder Charles Watson said.

"River Action is simply not prepared to sit back and continue to watch these injustices to our rivers continue. Accordingly, we are taking immediate advice with regards to appealing the judgment."

High Court hearing

A hearing was held at the High Court in Cardiff in February over two days.

The judge said the evidence provided by the National Farmers Union (NFU) demonstrated "current agricultural working practices would have to change" to comply with both the claimant and defendant's interpretation of the regulations.

This would lead to changes in the way farms operate "together with associated costs", the judge added.

He said he was "unable to accept that the evidence demonstrates the kind of impracticality or absurdity which justifies the rejection of the claimant's and defendant's case on this point".

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An Environment Agency spokesperson said it "remained committed to protecting watercourses and working with farmers to meet their regulatory requirements".

"We are working to implement a more preventative, advice-led approach to monitoring and enforcement," they added.

"Anyone caught breaching environmental laws faces enforcement action, up to and including prosecution."