Supermarket giant Tesco has yet to respond to demands from local campaigners that it back up claims to be addressing farm pollution in the river Wye.

Tesco is the main customer of Avara, the Wye area's largest poultry producer. Manure from its suppliers and other farms has been claimed to be a major pollutant of the Wye, offically now in a "declining" state.

Marches Climate Action has now published an open letter asking Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy for more details of claims he made during the firm’s AGM at its Welwyn Garden City headquarters earlier this month.


According to MCA’s letter, Mr Murphy had said he understood “the urgency of the situation with the river Wye” and that Tesco was working with conservation charity WWF UK and WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) on ways to address it.

“We would like more specifics about what these solutions are for the river Wye,” MCA’s letter says.

“Without specifics it sounds like greenwash at the expense of WWF UK and WRAP’s reputations.”


MCA said it would also ask the two charities for more details of what these solutions consist of.

Campaigners had earlier taken a petition to the retailer’s AGM, while an unnamed “Lady Wye” attempted to present Mr Murphy with a “mantle of responsibility” – a cloak made of hundreds of petition slips signed by concerned Tesco shoppers – but was ejected by security guards and police.

Ledbury Reporter: Lady Wye points an accusing finger at TescoLady Wye points an accusing finger at Tesco (Image: supplied)

The petition claimed Tesco’s contract with Avara breaks its own environment policy, which commits it to ensure that pollutants do not impact on waterways, and to “not knowingly cause, or risk causing, irreparable ecosystem damage”.

The letter to Mr Murphy also demanded that Tesco cut ties with Avara, as he had earlier told the meeting it has done with contractors in Thailand found to be in breach of its labour policies.

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Marches Climate Action’s campaign was supported by Save The Wye, Friends of the Upper Wye, Friends of the Lower Wye and others.

Tesco did not respond to a request for comment.

Last month, Natural England officially downgraded the river Wye’s status to being in “an unfavourable and declining condition”.

Avara claimed recently that it has already reduced the amount of phosphate its supplier farms produce that remains in Herefordshire.