Water quality and ecological condition of UK rivers is no longer improving, and a recent Environment Agency report indicated that all rivers in England are polluted. This is largely attributed to sewage discharge, farming, and industrial chemicals. In the post-Brexit UK, there will be increased pressure on the agriculture sector to improve national food security. Along the River Wye, recent increases in aquatic pollutant loads are thought to have resulted from the development of new chicken farms within the river catchment, with 75 farms approved between 2017 and 2020. This project will examine the impact of chicken farm development on river water quality and ecology along the Wye using a before-after-control-impact design, to quantify the impact and inform potential mitigation strategies.
Policy Impact of Research:
Improved understanding of impacts on water quality and river ecology will provide evidence to guide environmental auditing and planning and policy responses to agricultural development in river catchments. This will be important as the UK develops post-Brexit environmental policies to achieve its promised ‘Green Brexit’ that puts the ‘environment first’.