A WYESIDE council wants to work with intensive poultry units to tackle pollution in the river.

The poor water quality due to high levels of phosphates has been caused by run-off from chicken manure spread on nearby fields and sewage discharge, according to environmental campaigners and scientists.

There are currently 11 intensive poultry units in the Forest of Dean and local councillors say they want to work with these to help them deliver a nutrient neutrality approach.

This would involve the amount of nitrates and phosphates entering the water system being offset by removing the equivalent amount from the river, say the Forest of Dean District Council.

Council chiefs also want to develop new policies through the local plan to safeguard and restore the ecosystem.

Councillors unanimously backed a motion last Thursday to recognise that the solutions to the problem cannot be fixed by them alone and will need input from key organisations like Defra, Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The council has also pledged to continue its work with the nutrient management board which was set up by Herefordshire Council to tackle the issue.

Lydbrook councillor Sid Phelps (Green), who put forward the motion, said: “Our River Wye in particular is in big trouble. Intensive poultry units are partly responsible for this.

“Intensive poultry units in the catchment area are turning it and its tributaries into open sewers.

“The poultry faeces from these intensive poultry units are spread by farmers on surrounding fields. But the soil cannot absorb all the nutrients the poultry faeces contain.

“Then, when it rains, the phosphate, nitrate and other pollutants in the poultry faeces run off and enter our rivers and waterways.

“The results are devastating. The heightened level of phosphate is causing a problem called eutrophication.

‘‘This process causes excess algae to form, and the resultant green blooms block out the sunlight and deprive aquatic life of oxygen.”

“This motion is not so arrogant as to presume this council will solve the riddle, but it simply states that we recognise the serious nature of the problem and will do everything in our powers to work towards a solution.”