A CAMPAIGNER has been swimming in the river Wye with a huge egg box behind her.

Wild swimmer Angela Jones, known as the Wild Woman of the Wye, has launched her latest effort to raise awareness of the decline of the Wye and call for urgent action to save it from the brink ecological collapse.

Angela Jones entered the waters of the Wye at Hereford on Saturday, June 25, towing a large model egg box.

She said it was to highlight the phosphate problems plaguing the river, with the poultry industry contributing to that.

According to research from Natural Resources Wales, more than 60 per cent of the river Wye catchment is failing to meet pollution targets, and phosphates in the river Lugg has led to a housebuilding block across the north of Herefordshire.


Research from investigative documentary Riverside, more than 20 million chickens are now being reared in the Wye catchment.

Then the manure from that, as well as from free range egg farms, pollutes the rivers. Excessive phosphate levels then drive the formation of algal blooms that suffocate river life.

Angela Jones said: “The time for talking is over. We are on a cliff edge.

"Urgent action is now required and if it is not implemented this year then we can wave goodbye to the Wye, the nation’s favourite river.”

Campaigners including the charity River Action have highlighted the role of individual businesses, notably two of the UK’s leading egg and chicken meat producers Noble Foods and Avara Foods.

With Ms Jones towing a huge egg box, mocked-up to appear like one of those made by Noble Foods' The Happy Eggs Company, the firm said it takes environmental commitment seriously.

It said it is supplied by family-run farms in the region, which represent a very small proportion of the poultry flock in the area.


"Despite our small footprint, as the UK’s largest egg producer we have a responsibility to lead the way for our industry," a spokesperson said.

They said the company tries to work with each producer, and the Wye and Usk Foundation.

Work all carried out includes the installation of new wetland pools at one site, which will help to improve water quality and provide natural flood management for nearby waterways.

The spokesperson also said the firm is pleased to be in contact with River Action, to share and discuss commitments.

"It is only through an open dialogue – from all stakeholders in the sector - that we will see significant, sustainable improvement in the Wye and Usk region," they added.