'Citizen scientists' form huge SOS on the banks of the River Wye to protest against pollution

The SOS was formed on the banks of the River Wye Credit: Eamon Bourke & Aerial Photography Wales

More than 100 volunteers and 'citizen scientists' have formed a huge SOS on the banks of the River Wye in Herefordshire to protest against rising pollution levels.

The formation comes as the group plans to hold a series of events in July to draw attention to the pollution in the river, which runs between Wales and England for over 150 miles.

In a statement, representatives from multiple groups involved in monitoring the river announced the upcoming 'WyeJuly' to draw attention to the issue.

"Run-off from intensive poultry units (IPUs), which have proliferated in Powys and Herefordshire, is causing unprecedented damage to the river and its ecosystems," the statement explains.

"An enormous surplus of chicken manure from IPUs is being loaded on to fields surrounding the Wye and its tributaries, fields that are already saturated with nutrients.

"These soils then wash into the river provoking algal blooms that starve the river of oxygen."

"Habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity is being witnessed along almost the entire length of the river."

A months long investigation by ITV News Central last year agreed that, with some sixteen million chickens reared in Herefordshire each year, a huge amount of manure is being dumped in the river - causing high levels of damaging phosphate.

The SOS formed by volunteers, above, and the citizen scientists and volunteers who created it, below Credit: Eamon Bourke & Aerial Photography Wales

Eamon Bourke, a trustee of Friends of the Upper Wye who devised the photograph said, "The Wye needs rescuing and the governments in Wales and England must act now."

"It has fallen to people like us to do the work that the environment agencies on both sides of the border should be doing.”

“This is an international symbol for requesting help. For the Wye, it’s also a plea to Save Our Soils."