For decades the direction of policy has been towards intensive farming, heavily subsidised by the tax-payer. Among the results of this have been the over-use of chemicals and water pollution from agriculture. In the face of climate change and other pressures, a new direction is needed.
Water UK supports the steps the European Commission and Defra are taking to de-couple farm production from levels of subsidy payments and CAP reform.
Proposals in the current Defra consultations on Diffuse Pollution from Agriculture, implementation of the Nitrates Directive and the Revised Code of Good Agricultural Practice are welcome.
However, Water UK thinks more should be done to encourage the agriculture sector to implement the polluter pays and cost recovery principles required by the Water Framework Directive.
Farmers provide vital land management services. This should be properly recognised but they should no longer be paid to pollute. Steps are needed to end the cross subsidy involved in the clean-up of agricultural pollution by the water sector.
Relying on 'end-of-pipe' solutions from water companies is effectively short-term 'pollution-swapping', as we are learning from the emerging impacts of climate change.
Contact: Steve Ntifo