Changes forced on organic manure application policy

Salmon & Trout Conservation forces Environment Agency to change Regulatory Policy Statement on spreading organic manure on agricultural land 

Challenged by Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC), the Environment Agency has back-pedalled on its attempt to disapply the law on farmers not spreading manures this autumn where such spreading would exceed the needs of the soil or crops.

In early September, S&TC challenged the Environment Agency’s initial Regulatory Position Statement to farmers on spreading organic manures.

In S&TC’s view, the RPS purported to disapply an offence under the Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018.

While the Agency is able to exercise its discretion, as to whether or not to enforce against offenders, it cannot legally disapply law where Parliament has provided that spreading manure where it exceeds the needs of the soil or crop is a prosecutable offence.

Photo: from Getty Images.
Photo: from Getty Images.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TC, said

We are only too well aware that the Environment Agency is taking a soft touch approach to regulation of the farming industry and the evidence is clear to see in the damage being caused to rivers across England. 

We deeply regret and oppose any decision by the Environment Agency to soft-pedal on farmers particularly in relation to the issues surrounding spreading of manure in the autumn. 

This is not a new issue and farmers are well aware of the dangers to rivers, streams and lakes if they spread manures when crops and soils do not need them. Codes of practice dating back into the 1980s have made that crystal clear to farmers.

That the Agency has indicated that it is going to soft-pedal on enforcing this particular regulation is deeply regrettable. 

We are however delighted that the Agency will be replacing the existing Regulatory Policy Statement, making it clear that the law is still the same – it is an offence to spread manure where it exceeds the needs of the soil or crop”.

To find out more about the impacts of agricultural pollution on freshwater environments, please click here to visit our Water Action page.