CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the news of £35m Government funding to help tackle River Wye pollution, but say it doesn't go far enough.

Numerous protests and legal action have been launched over the last three years, amid claims that intensive chicken farming and other livestock rearing upriver are pouring phosphates into the water.

The chicken population in Powys and Herefordshire is estimated at 23 million birds, and campaigners have accused major businesses like Tesco and Hereford-based food firm Avara of enabling the industrial-scale farming.

Farmers spread livestock muck on their fields, but scientific studies have shown the land is saturated, with phosphates leaching into the river.

The Government funding announced last week will be given to farmers to help stop soil getting into the water, and to take waste out of the river catchment.

Charles Watson, chair of the charity River Action, which has launched legal action against the Environment Agency for allegedly failing to regulate the situation, said they welcomed the plan "in part".

But he added: "I fear we've been here before. There is a thundering silence on critically important actions such as banning new intensive livestock production units.”.

Tom Tibbits, Chair of Friends of the River Wye, welcomed funding for buffer strips, but said moving chicken muck elsewhere was not an environmental solution.

"I have to say I'm frankly disgusted that my tax receipts could be put to such short sighted and one-sided actions to allegedly reduce river pollution."

West Midlands Environment Agency area director Marc Lidderth, said: “The introduction of this wide-ranging plan allows the EA to capitalise on its work already underway with partners, local farmers and environmental groups to tackle the decline in water quality."

The Wye is an SSSI and home to protected species such as otters, kingfishers, white-clawed crayfish and the Atlantic Salmon.

But pollution has caused algal blooms which deprive wildlife of oxygen, with Natural England downgrading the river’s status last year to "unfavourable – declining".

Last month Wye wild swimmer and anti-pollution campaigner Angela Jones led a protest live on BBC 2’s Newsnight in front of a panel of politicians, when she unfurled a 'protect our rivers' banner before she was cut off by host Victoria Derbyshire.

Angela claimed the River Wye is 'on the verge of ecological collapse' after being handed a microphone after Derbyshire turned the topic towards pollution.

She then stood up, unfurling the sign and said: 'We have got to the stage where no politicians are listening to what is happening.'Water is life. If we haven't got clean water, we have got no life.”

Derbyshire then said:  “Just to let the audience know, Angela is holding up a banner that says protect our rivers. Thank you, Angela. Well done,” before saying they were out of time.

Viewers posted that protestor and presenter had behaved in a ‘very British polite manner’.

“Wonderful to be called the world’s politest protester,” posted Angela later. In another development, Avara is also being sued, with lawyers Leigh Day claiming industrial chicken farming is harming the ecosystem and the local economy.

But Avara says all manure from its suppliers is now taken away and used elsewhere, and there is no case to answer.