I share his deep frustration with the lack of progress from the Nutrient Management Board on reversing the Wye pollution crisis.
At the heart of the issue seems to be the government’s refusal to fund the Environment Agency properly and free it from the constant pressure for ‘deregulation’ – so that it can do its job in monitoring water quality and subsequently prosecuting polluters, whether they are poultry unit owners, farmers spreading manure or water companies.
This summer, the agency has been shown to be subverting legislation designed to control pollution.
The Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018 requires that farmers ‘do not spread manures in the autumn where such spreading would exceed the needs of the soil or crops’. Doing so is a prosecutable offence under the legislation.
Despite the well-known issues facing the River Wye and other rivers, the agency issued a Regulatory Position Statement saying that the legislation on autumn manure spreading did not apply this year and farmers could spread manure even if it exceeded the needs of soil and crops.
It took Salmon and Trout Conservation to challenge the Agency in court to get this statement removed.
Well done to the S&TC!
What will the agency do now?
Will it check farmers are adhering to the new legislation?
Will the government fund the agency properly to carry out the necessary checks?
Will it ensure the agency prosecutes polluters if the evidence it should be gathering reveals offences?
Or will we have to rely on private prosecutions of polluters as well as citizen science volunteers for water quality monitoring?
Mrs Bryony John
- What do you think can be done to help pollution in the River Wye? Have your say HERE