Food and Beverage Business

Avara, a leading UK chicken producer, under fire for alleged river pollution in legal battle

Avara, a leading UK chicken producer, under fire for alleged river pollution in legal battle Avara Foods Food and Beverage Business

A compensation claim has been filed against UK-based poultry group Avara Foods for allegedly causing damage to a major river and its catchment area. Solicitors Leigh Day have initiated a legal claim against the chicken business co-owned by agri-food giant Cargill, seeking damages covering a 4,000 square-kilometre area in Powys, Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire, near the England-Wales border. The legal firm alleges that Avara’s industrial-scale chicken farming in the River Wye catchment area is polluting the River Wye and surrounding land.

According to Leigh Day, evidence suggests that Avara is a significant contributor to phosphorus pollution, which is harming the fourth-largest river in the UK. The legal claim contends that the operations of large corporate poultry producers are leading to the leaching of phosphorus-rich manure into the soil and river, resulting in elevated phosphorus levels in the water. This, in turn, causes algal blooms, odour, insect swarms, biodiversity loss, and reduced water quality.

The River Wye has witnessed a surge in the chicken industry, with a notable increase in poultry production in the region. Avara is reported to be the largest poultry processor in the area, responsible for 80% of the birds in the River Wye catchment. This increase has been attributed to meeting the chicken meat demands of Tesco, a customer of Avara Foods.

Individuals eligible to join the claim include those with land or property surrounding the River Wye, forming a community surrounding the river. Leigh Day estimates that tens of thousands of people may be part of this community. The legal action aims to address the decline in the health of the River Wye, which is believed to be linked to the growth of intensive poultry farming in the area.

In response to the claims, Avara stated their commitment to playing a role in the restoration of the River Wye by taking accountability for poultry manure in their supply chain. They emphasized that reversing the decline of the river requires collective effort, as it surpasses the capabilities of any single organization.

While Avara maintains that they are not a direct contributor to pollution in the River Wye due to their farming practices, support for the compensation claim comes from charity River Action. The charity highlights the environmental impact of concentrated poultry production in the area and supports the initiative to hold the responsible party accountable for the pollution of the river.

Charity founder Charles Watson expressed the need for the polluter to take responsibility and emphasized the importance of cleaning up the environmental damage caused by the poultry industry in the region. The legal action seeks to seek recompense for the pollution and holds Avara accountable for the impact of their operations on the River Wye.

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