The news in the national papers that the Government intends to pay higher subsidies to producers of ‘free-range’ products is enough to make my hair stand on end.

Control of such enterprises seems to fall to the Environmental Agency, which has made such a botch of controlling or policing the vast expansion of intensive chicken sheds in this and neighbouring counties.

It is only a few weeks since you reported the horrid consequences of intensive free-range chicken production upstream in Powys, where ‘free range’ birds may be packed at 2,000 or more an acre, leaving the River Wye and its tributaries running green with phosphate and nitrogen run-offs and the River Lugg showing phosphate fed algae blooms.

Locally, we have absolutely no influence on the Environmental Agency, but before we pour yet more subsidies into farming can we at least ask that existing and blatant problems be cured before we all end up drinking bottled water?

Paul Young

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