Following the consultation it initiated in 2015, Defra has released its conclusions on farming rules for water.
Click here for a press notice, policy paper and overview of the rules.
Defra’s documents outline the new rules and say that in essence:
- the rules cover both management of fertilisers and manure and management of soils;
- in light of consultation responses, the rules won’t be prescriptive but will set the outcomes to be achieved and put the onus on farmers to identify what action they need to take to achieve them on their land;
- Environment Agency (EA) implementation of the rules will be advice-led, the majority of cases being dealt with by issuing advice and if necessary through civil sanctions. Prosecution would be reserved for where other enforcement actions have;
- the rules are part of a range of measures designed to address diffuse pollution and aim to do so in a way which helps farmers to save money by getting full value from fertilisers and soil;
- it’s important that all farmers follow the rules to ensure a level playing field. The new rules have been aligned with those for farm payments and nitrates, so it may be that many farmers comply with them already.