Opposition is growing to a planned intensive chicken unit by a Herefordshire river.

TL Whittall has applied for an environmental permit to allow it to switch production at its Hergest Camp Farm, near Kington, from 33,000 turkeys to 215,000 broiler chickens at a time.

Campaigning group Fish Legal has submitted a response opposing the plan to the Environment Agency (EA) on behalf of the Kington Fishing Club, who are concerned about its potential impact on the river Arrow, 100 metres from the farm.

The club’s Richard Banks said: “We fully support farmers, but we cannot support industrial agricultural projects which are only viable because they exploit regulatory loopholes and lax enforcement to derive their profits from destruction of their local environment.

“This intensive poultry factory is a grave further threat to our natural ecosystem and the downstream local community. As it stands, we oppose it wholeheartedly.”

Fish Legal solicitor Justin Neal said: “This application is woefully lacking in the most basic details about the potential pollution risk to nearby watercourses.

“There is virtually no information about where poultry manure will be stored or spread or how dirty water at the site will be managed and a near total-absence of clear, measurable, and verifiable plans for what happens to the poultry waste if and when it is exported off-site.”

Hereford Times: The Hereford Times Save the Wye campaign calls for more concerted action to protect the river.The Hereford Times Save the Wye campaign calls for more concerted action to protect the river.

The EA’s own river Wye water quality page says that phosphate concentrations are already increasing in the river’s tributaries, with Arrow along with the Lugg and Frome catchments “the biggest contributors”.

These cause “eutrophication” or overloading with nutrients, leading to algal blooms, and hitting populations of salmon, trout and other fish, it says.

Its consultation concludes next Tuesday (June 14). Already seven other responses, all opposing the plan, have been published.

Coming to a decision on the plan would then be “likely to take several months”, an EA spokesperson said.

The farm’s owner Owen Whittall earlier defended his planned move into chickens, saying: “I expect my farm’s impact to reduce as a result of this change.”