Welsh Government Tackling Agricultural Pollution From 2020
Farmers working in Wales will have to make agricultural pollution their focus from 2020, with new regulations due to come into force in January of that year in a bid to address the issue of poor practice in this regard.
The Welsh government has announced that measures will include sustainable fertiliser applications, nutrient management planning, manure storage standards and the protection of water from pollution related to the spreading of fertilisers.
Lesley Griffiths, cabinet secretary, explained that 2017 has seen a rise in the number of major incidents of pollution, which has damaged both the environment and the agriculture industry’s reputation.
She went on to say that a regulatory baseline will be developed in the long term but in the short term, action must be taken now to handle what has become “unacceptable levels” of pollution in this sector.
“As winter approaches, I am receiving reports of further incidents and of slurry spreading being carried out in unsuitable weather conditions. Not all slurry spreading is bad, but it must be done legally to avoid such destructive consequences.
“This poor practice is leaving many stretches of rivers devoid of fish. Our rural communities, which depend on tourism, angling and food industries, must be protected,” Ms Griffiths went on to say.
Apparently, the number of incidents seen in 2018 has exceeded what was recorded in the previous year, with the cabinet secretary adding that the new regulations will make sure that “firm and consistent enforcement” is taken while making sure that there are no barriers to trade of produce with the EU after Brexit.
In the UK as a whole, the Environment Agency recently revealed that serious incidents of pollution from livestock farms are taking place on a weekly basis, which is damaging fish, wildlife and farm livestock, as well as creating air and water pollution.
A Guardian and Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigation found last year that even serious incidents of this kind may not result in prosecutions and farms that have contributed to pollution continue to receive subsidies.
The investigation revealed that the biggest number of serious incidents took place in the south-west, followed by the Midlands, with waterways and land being polluted by slurry, noxious fumes being emitted and carcasses being inappropriately buried.
Some of the worst cases have been linked to megafarms, which can house thousands of pigs and hundreds of thousands of chickens, with such farms now on the rise around the country. The number of breaches recorded at large intensive farms has climbed in the last three years.
Between 2010 and 2016, more than 3,000 cases of pollution from poultry, dairy and pig farms were recorded by the Environment Agency in England alone. Although farmers can be hit with fines of up to £50,000 or six months in jail, the majority of cases never reach court.
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