George Eustice Waters George Eustice

Government retracts ‘unlawful’ pollution guidance for England’s farms

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theguardian.com

Guidance that would have allowed farmers to spread manures and slurry on land in a way that would overload it with nutrients and risk pollution of rivers, lakes and coastal waters has been changed by Defra, after a challenge over its lawfulness.Manures, which include sewage sludge, abattoir waste and slurries, are a leading source of water pollution.

Their application is strictly controlled under what are known as the Farming Rules for Water. But Defra’s guidance had directed the Environment Agency not to enforce a breach of the rules if a farmer produced its own manures or used imported manures that could lead to nutrient overload.Campaign group Salmon and Trout Conservation wrote to environment secretary George Eustice in April threatening judicial review unless the guidance was withdrawn, saying it was “unlawful, as it tells the Environment Agency that land managers can, in effect, breach the 2018 regulations … and that any such breach should not normally be subject to any enforcement”.Defra rejected the claim in May, saying that “the proposed challenge is without merit”.

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