Breaches of English farm pollution laws rise as rules remain largely unenforced
Date of alert:
Friday, 22 April 2022
The number of documented violations of legislation designed to reduce water pollution caused by agriculture in England has hit record levels as the rules remain largely unenforced.
Last year had the highest number of recorded violations of the farming rules for water since the legislation was introduced in April 2018, and environmental groups estimate tens of thousands of English farms continue to commit undocumented violations.
A total of 391 breaches were identified during the 2021-2022 financial year, which ended on 31 March, up from 106 breaches officially recorded in the previous year, according to data obtained by the Guardian and the investigative journalism organisation Point Source.
Despite the farming rules for water having been implemented more than four years ago, and the rising number of breaches being documented, the Environment Agency has yet to issue any fines or prosecute anyone under the legislation.
The increasing number of documented offences and the absence of a credible threat of enforcement of the law demonstrates a clear failure by the government to protect the country’s most fragile ecosystems, according to conservation organisations.
“It makes a mockery of our democracy and the rule of law if polluters are not prosecuted for blatant offences which cause misery and huge costs for many other people and businesses,” said Mark Lloyd, the chief executive of the Rivers Trust, a charity that works to protect Britain’s lakes and waterways.