MORE than a mile of the River Clwyd has been fenced off to prevent the water from being contaminated by cattle farming.

Environmental management authority Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has advised 200 farms in the Lower Clwyd area on how best to protect rivers and streams from agricultural pollution including cow dung, fertilisers and pesticides which can harm river life. They can also damage riverbeds, banks and disturb beaches on the North Wales coast.

The conservation project was launched by NRW last year and so far about 2000 metres, or a mile and a quarter, of riverbank has been fenced and troughs have been provided to supply alternative drinking water for livestock. River access has now been stopped for 500 cattle.

Bethan Beech, Denbighshire team leader for NRW, said the authority has “a lot more to do” but “small changes in farm practices can make a big difference”.

“North Wales benefits from a stunning environment and our coastline is enjoyed by thousands of local people and visitors,” Ms Beech added.

“In recent years, we’ve focussed on the sewage drainage infrastructure in the lower Clwyd, private dischargers and urban drainage in an attempt to mitigate pollution incidents in all sectors.

“By making lots of small, individual improvements I hope we can enjoy cleaner rivers and bathing waters.”

Gareth and Lowri Evans, who own Bron Haul Farm in Henllan, one of nine situated along the River Clwyd, agreed to change the movement of their cattle and had a trough installed on their property.

“We as Welsh farmers fully appreciate that we have a responsibility to help improve water quality,” Mrs Evans said.

“Although this is a small project, we hope it will make a difference overall.”

NRW is now working with public water service Welsh Water, farmers’ unions and the Clwyd, Conwy and Gwynedd Rivers Trust to carry out similar work elsewhere.

Tudur Parry, land use committee chairman at the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), voiced his support for the measures and that “no farmer wants to pollute” nearby water sources.

Paul Williams, Clwyd county chairman of the National Farmers’ Union Cymru, added: ‘‘Farmers take their environment responsibilities seriously and we are pleased to work with the organisations to support farmers to improve water quality where this is needed.’’