Joyce poses Powys poultry question to new FM

Assembly member Joyce Watson has raised concerns about the number of intensive poultry units in Powys with First Minister Mark Drakeford.

In his first question and answer session as government leader (8 January), Mr Drakeford assured the Mid and West Wales Labour AM that a new working group, including Powys County Council, intends to publish special guidance on the issue for planning authorities by the end of 2019.

Mrs Watson said:

“A number of constituents from Powys have written to me raising concerns regarding the number of poultry units that have been granted planning permission in recent years.

“It’s time we assessed the overall impact of poultry farming and how it affects the environment and also local communities.

“I’m pleased to hear that the Welsh Government is developing a comprehensive plan and guidance for local authorities that are charged with issuing these licences. I would like them to take account of the accumulative impact on the local community and the environment, as well as the welfare of the animals that are being raised in these intensive units.

“In my opinion, we can’t go on as we are. We have seen the poisoning of rivers as a consequence of some of these having planning permission and all the spill-off going into those rivers. So, I look forward to the report and I look forward also to the changes that it will bring about.”

The First Minister responded:

“I thank Joyce Watson for that question. She will know that, as a result of the concerns that she and other Members have raised here in recent times about the growing number of applications and granted applications for development in the poultry sector, action has already been taken to make sure, for example, that larger intensive units are closely regulated by Natural Resources Wales in accordance with the requirements of the industrial emissions directive.

“’Planning Policy Wales’, which was published by Lesley Griffiths (environment minister) in December, drew particular attention to the need for local authorities to, as Joyce Watson suggested, make sure that the cumulative impact of such developments—cumulative in the sense that they create a number of different environmental challenges, but cumulative in the sense that a growing number of them close by has an additional impact on local communities—is taken into account.

“But, as Joyce Watson says, there is a series of strands of regulation that need to be drawn together here not simply in the environmental field, but in animal welfare as well.”

Joyce Watson is a member of the Assembly’s environment and economic scrutiny committees.