Agriculture: Water

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th November 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to improve knowledge of, (2) to implement, and (3) to enforce, their farming rules for water.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Defra and the Environment Agency (EA) jointly undertook communications on the announcement of the new 'farming rules for water' and the approach to their implementation. This included promotion of the rules on gov.uk, posters, banners, summary cards and questions and answer sheets distributed to a wide range of key farming and environmental stakeholders who also raised awareness via talks, press articles and their own websites. The EA continues to promote the rules via the Farming Advice Service (FAS) newsletter.

The EA is responsible for regulation of the rules. In the first year it took an advice led approach raising awareness of the rules with farmers and their advisers. It is now actively enforcing the rules, through advice, guidance and the possibility of both civil and criminal sanctions. The EA takes a risk-based approach to farm visits with the resources it has available for agriculture, targeting visits at the activities with high potential for pollution or where actual pollution has been reported. The EA also works with those producing materials off-farm that are spread on farmers' fields, such as anaerobic digestates and biosolids from the water industry to raise awareness of the rules and the limits on what can be spread.

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