Many thanks to Ross Cherrington Senior Farm Advisor for the West Country Rivers Trust who agreed to write this short article highlighting the issues facing our West Country Rivers.

Recently both Paul Whitehouse’s programme “Our Troubled Rivers” and “Countryfile” have spent a lot of time focusing on the problems with nutrients and sediment entering the River Wye concentrating on the issues of intensive chicken farming within the catchment. Interestingly new intensive chicken farms have strict planning and environmental rules called the Intensive Pig and Poultry permits run under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive IPPC. These plans are where it seems to be failing and should also include a manure management plan and be inspected every 3 years
It’s a shame that Our troubled rivers didn’t have more time to include the filmed Tamar segments, with interviews with an intensive dairy farmer, citizen scientists involved with the Sapputo Issues and a River keeper. I am sure the BBC could have had a complete programme on the Tamar instead of concentrating on a certain person of Scottish descent and his beavers. This is because in Devon and Cornwall our problems are not poultry or pig based but cattle and sediment. Muck and Mud. Too many dairy farms do not have enough slurry storage, or it’s in poor condition, and leaky. I still come across dairy farms in my job with the Westcountry Rivers Trust with No slurry storage just an old 3 stage settlement system with a dodgy pump.
There could be an easy way to service these new stores based on milk price, and tax breaks. The dairy company could offer a guaranteed 2p/litre more than base price for those farms with 5 months Silage Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil (SSAFO) regs compliant stores, with incremental payments up to that 2p limit for those getting there. It doesn’t make sense to me that its easier to get a tax break buying a new tractor but not for a new slurry store. The £3million slurry investment scheme has apparently had 8000 applicants for grants to construct a covered 6 month capacity store which if the average grant is £100,000 only allows for 30 projects.

Ross Cherrington                                                     

Senior Farm Advisor

Westcountry Rivers Trust