Avara Foods has hit back at a legal move against it over pollution to the river Wye.

The Hereford-based poultry firm, a major supplier to Tesco, said law firm Leigh Day’s civil claim against it, involving multiple claimants, was “a year-old, opportunistic attempt to profit from a serious environmental issue”.

“It has no merit and is not supported by evidence or expert opinion,” its spokesperson said.


“It ignores the long-standing use of phosphate-rich fertiliser by arable farms as well as the clear scientific data showing the issue of excess phosphorus considerably pre-dates the growth of poultry farms in the Wye catchment.”

It has been claimed that the poor state of the river Wye, now officially classed as “unfavourable-declining”, is due largely to the use of poultry manure from farms in the area as a fertiliser, leading to nutrient run-off.

“We are confident that there is no case to defend but, if forced to do so, we would pursue Leigh Day to recover any costs we incur,” Avara’s spokesperson added.

Announcing progress on its “sustainable poultry roadmap” last month, Avara chief executive Andy Dawkins said what was needed was “widespread action to address the various forms of pollution and the many root causes of decline” of the Wye and other rivers.