Baseline agricultural regulation must stay if we are serious about protecting our rivers

  • Wildfish
  • Wildfish
  • Wildfish
  • Wildfish

A report released today by the Environment Agency (EA) is clear proof that baseline agricultural regulation, such as the Farming Rules for Water, must stay if we are serious about protecting our rivers.

The report shows that in 2021, the EA carried out 721 inspections on 693 farms (more than double the number in 2020). Following these inspections, it issued 976 improvement actions, of which 413 have been verified as completed.

The report said that at:

  • 52% of inspections, it found “non-compliance with the Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil (SSAFO) regulations, which govern slurry and silage storage infrastructure”.
  • 43% of inspections, it found “non-compliance with at least one of the Farming Rules for Water. Failure to have the current nutrient planning and soil tests under Rule 1 were the most recurring breaches identified”.

The report went on to identify the dairy sector in particular as a continued poor performer.

In 2016 Defra recorded 106,000 farms in the UK. If the EA’s experience is representative of farms across the country it suggests that 53,000 are likely to be failing basic regulatory measures.

‘Today’s report is further proof that baseline agricultural regulation is essential if we want to improve the dire state of our rivers. An increase in inspections has highlighted increasing pressures on freshwater from poor farming practices. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We must protect agricultural regulations, such as Farming Rules for Water, from the regulation bonfire, or we will lose the fight to save our rivers’.

Janina Gray

Deputy CEO, WildFish
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