“The increase in some intensive farming practices is one of many serious and direct threats to our rivers in Wales, which are deteriorating at an alarming rate; and a growing number of concerns have been raised with us from members of the public,” says Derek Walker, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

Responding to the increasing amount of correspondence from members of the public on the issue, Derek, who is almost a month into his role, which requires public bodies including Welsh Government to act today for a better tomorrow, said: 

“The Future Generations Commissioner’s office does not have a case-work function and cannot investigate or act upon individual concerns, including planning applications.  However, through public correspondence, we can detect recurring or systemic issues.  

“Planning applications related to the proliferation of intensive poultry units are an example of an issue that’s been raised with us, and in 2018, we flagged the cumulative impact of IPUs with both Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales. 

“Planning decisions made by local authorities must consider the affect that the development will have 

‘on biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, including where there may be cumulative impacts on air or water quality which may have adverse consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.’ 

We’re concerned that not enough action is being taken to understand the cumulative impacts of IPUs and prevent damage to our rivers – one of our most important natural resources – and that more needs to be done to ensure they are healthy for future generations.” 

The Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales’ advice to residents who have concerns about the state of a river’s ecosystem (ecology and/or water quality) is to:  

1. Contact Planning Aid Wales if you’re concerned about a planning application as poultry units (and other types of development) can be challenged during the planning application process.

2. Planning Policy Wales  is a relevant consideration for Local Development Plans. Ceredigion Council have issued an update on theirs, regarding phosphate levels in River Teifi here.
While Local Development Plans are not an avenue through which people can stop or appeal a specific development, they are one of the ways through which the public can get involved and help shape local communities. 

3. Contact Natural Resources Wales and / or your local authority.

4. Check your area’s well-being objectives published by in via your public service board, in their local well-being plans. People can question how local well-being plans and objectives were considered in the decisions made by the local authority.

We also have tools to help people engage with and use the Well-being of Future Generations Act. For example, our Future Generations Framework for projects and Future Generations Framework for scrutiny can be used to ask how the long-term impacts of decisions are being considered and how decisions are considering the well-being goals, including ‘A Resilient Wales’. 

The new commissioner, Derek Walker, has announced his priority as he starts the role is working with others including public bodies, to find out how we can achieve transformational change in Wales, including on the climate and nature emergencies that impact on how liveable a planet we have and leave to future generations. More information will be published soon. 

These issues will be considered in this piece of work. In the meantime, you can write to the commissioner at contactus@futuregenerations.wales