An angling organisation has been refused permission to challenge Powys County Council’s decision to allow a poultry farm near Builth Wells to double in size.

In a hearing on August 22, the High Court in Cardiff refused permission for Fish Legal to to proceed with a proposed challenge to the planning permission to expand the unit on the River Wye catchment.

The move will increase the size of the unit from 90,000 to 180,000 birds.

Fish Legal, a non-profit organisation of lawyers who use the law on behalf of anglers, raised concerns with Powys County Council.

The organisation argued that the council had not considered what will happen to tonnes of additional poultry manure that will be spread as digestate on land in the River Wye catchment.

Justin Neal, a solicitor for Fish Legal, said: “This a hugely disappointing result for anybody who cares about the River Wye.

“We maintain that Powys County Council has a duty to assess the direct and indirect effects of these intensive units, which would include the impact of spreading of the digestate generated from poultry manure from the site, which can be washed into the river. None of this was taken into consideration.”

Fish Legal says it will consider appealing the decision.

Penelope Gane, head of practice at Fish Legal, said: “This case exposes how we have got into this dire situation with agricultural pollution in rivers.

“There is clearly a gap between the planning and permitting regime when it comes to regulatory oversight of pollutants from intensive poultry production.

“We are no clearer as to whether the planning authority or Natural Resources Wales will be able to enforce if the phosphate-rich digestate ultimately runs off and causes further deterioration to the delicate ecology of the River Wye and the species it supports.”

A spokesperson for Powys County Council said: “The council is aware of the High Court decision to refuse the application for a judicial review into this planning decision.

“The planning application was processed and approved correctly and in line with the council’s planning policies.

“We will now be seeking to recover the costs and expenses ordered by the court to be paid to the council.”