Slurry pit proposals threaten protected sites in Wales

By Elf

ELF was contacted in April 2022 by an individual concerned about proposals to site a huge slurry pit in a nature sensitive area in Llanybri, Carmarthen, Wales.  The application proposals concerned the relocation of slurry storage from the main farmstead to an undeveloped field closer to a local Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The application was under the Environmental Permitting Regulations and Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Silage Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (England) Regulations (SSAFO Regulations), and proposed Welsh Agricultural Pollution Regulations.

The site for the slurry storage now proposed is little more than 400m away from a Marine Special Protected Area (MSPA), saltmarsh and near to a SSSI buffer zone. In addition, the application site is closer to watercourses discharging into the SAC/SSSI. Slurry, as is increasingly recognised, is a highly polluting substance that kills fish, plants and other wildlife and causes eutrophication if it reaches a watercourse. The potential for a severe pollution incident to the SAC/SSSI if the slurry pit were to fail or if there were any leaks or spills is substantially increased by bringing the farm’s slurry storage arrangements closer to watercourses discharging into the protected areas themselves. Given there is much flooding in the area this seemed like a potential risk that had to be taken very seriously. ELF submitted a letter of objection on behalf of residents.  In particular we brought to the attention of Natural Resources Wales and the Local Planning Authority the need to adopt the precautionary principle as an overriding requirement when triggered by the Habitats Regulations. We argued this was triggered here given the proximity of the MSPA.

ELF is very grateful to ELF member Helen Hamilton of Marches Planning for her advice on this matter.