NFU Cymru raises concerns of illegal dumping of untreated sewage after Panorama documentary

NFU Cymru has written to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, to express its concerns after a Panorama investigation uncovered alleged illegal dumping of untreated sewage in Welsh rivers.

The Panorama ‘River pollution scandal’ aired on Monday, April 12, and appeared to show untreated sewage illegally discharged into protected rivers in England and Wales, including the River Usk.

NFU Cymru said the broadcast has caused ‘great concern’ among Welsh farmers, who just two weeks ago were severely burdened with ‘indiscriminate and punitive’ measures as part of the Welsh government’s new all-Wales NVZ regulations aimed at improving water quality in Wales.

The union is asking that Welsh government and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) carry out a full investigation into the findings of the Panorama documentary, in order to assure farmers that ‘agriculture has not been held accountable for the pollution caused from other sources, particularly sewage treatment works’.

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NFU Cymru president John Davies

NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “NFU Cymru has long highlighted that there are a range of factors influencing water quality in Wales.

The evidence is clear that a sole focus on agriculture through the introduction of regulatory measures to tackle agricultural pollution will not deliver Water Framework Directive objectives, yet we have observed a false and flawed narrative developing in recent years that frames agriculture as ‘the problem’ with respect to water quality issues in Wales.

“In light of the evidence uncovered by the Panorama programme, NFU Cymru is seeking confirmation on what actions are being taken by government and the regulator to stop these illegal practices.

“We also ask what investigations are being undertaken to understand if, and where else within Wales similar illegal practices are, or have taken place,” he concluded.