Farms: Inspections

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 27th May 2022.

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

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many extra inspections, prosecutions and convictions have been conducted under the Farming Rules for Water, and other matters, since the appointment of 50 extra Environment Agency Inspectors, comparing the period before and after their appointment.

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)

Recruiting 50 new Agricultural Regulatory Inspections Officers has allowed the Environment Agency (EA) to significantly increase its inspections from around 300 per annum to 1805 in financial year 2021-22.

From April 2021 to date the EA has issued 3186 environmental improvement actions to farmers to bring them into compliance with regulations and prevent pollution. The EA has verified that 871 of these actions have been completed and it will continue to follow up the others to conclusion. Some actions on farms, such as building a new slurry store, take more time to complete due to raising finance, planning considerations and availability of contractors.

The new officers have not taken any prosecutions yet and have not applied any Civil Sanctions to Farming Rules for Water Offences. Except in cases of significant pollution, the EA starts the regulatory journey with advice, following up with more formal enforcement if that advice is not acted on.

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