Agricultural Pollution

Take action against agricultural pollution

See it, photograph it, report it

(Image above: Teifi pollution by Steffan Jones)

Agricultural pollution is occurring across England, Wales and Scotland as a result of bad farming practices, killing our wild fish and destroying our freshwater environments.

Not enough is being done to tackle it, and the rules are not properly enforced by our governments.

We need to ensure governments enforce the rules and take much needed action, and we need your help to do this.

What's our plan?

Not all farmers pollute rivers, but a minority do and seem not to care, while others do so unintentionally.  So, we are highlighting the problem of lack of enforcement of agricultural pollution rules.

Alongside a lot of behind the scenes campaigning, we aim to create a UK map of incidents which track bad practices and the destruction they cause, which we can use as leverage in campaigning for change.

We are collecting and collating images and reports of agricultural pollution incidents which we will present to the respective national environmental agencies around the UK, because despite government rules and guidelines not enough is being done.

We will therefore use your evidence to develop case studies and help us take action, with the ultimate aim of ensuring enforcement.

How can you help?

  1. If you spot an incident, make sure to take a photograph and make a note of the exact location, time and date. For accuracy, please find and save the exact location in Google maps and share the link with us.
  2. Report your concerns to the Environment Agency (EA) or Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) by calling 0800 80 70 60. For Welsh incidents contact Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on 0300 065 3000.
  3. Share the incident with us by completing our form below, after which we will be in touch to gather more information and your photos from you.
  4. We will upload your information into our incident map and add it to our database of case studies, which will be used to ensure enforcement.

Contact us with your agricultural pollution incident information

  • After you have reported the incident to the EA, SEPA or NRW, and acquired an incident number, please contact us using the adjacent form.
  • Please include a link to a saved Google maps location of where the incident occurred, as well as the date and time.
  • We will then get in touch with you to confirm details and receive your photos.
  • Your information will be added to our database and used as further evidence for enforcing stricter action from the EA, NRW and SEPA.
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What are 'good' and 'bad' farming practices?

What problems does agricultural pollution cause?

AGRICULTURAL POLLUTION IS RUINING OUR RIVERS AND killing OUR FISH

As the voice for the UK's wild fish, we are taking a stand against bad farming practices which harm are harming them. Some of the problems associated with agricultural pollution include:

Agricultural pollution is the main source of diffuse pollution

Diffuse pollution refers to various pollutants which seep into water at various points, collectively causing untold destruction - poor agricultural practices are the leading source of this.

2.9 million tonnes of soil are lost from fields every year in England & Wales

Excess fine sediments from soil loss clog spawning redds and kill invertebrates in our rivers and lakes.

Phosphate pollution kills the food chain for fish and creates toxic choking algae

Phosphates from fertilisers changes plant communities. This can lead to toxic algal blooms, a risk to humans and animals alike.

Pesticides & chemicals damage ecology

Chemicals and pesticides used to increase yield, reduce pests and stop disease are running off fields and negatively impacting our water courses.

Delicate food-chains are disrupted

Antibiotics, wormers and other medication from livestock are leaching into our waters - the worrying impact of which is not fully understood.

What is being done about agricultural pollution?

What are UK governments doing about agricultural pollution?

In April 2018 the English Government published farming rules for water - a mandatory baseline of good practice that land managers across England must follow. It aims to reduce the risk of water pollution, conserve soils and promote the most efficient use of nutrients. The majority of farmers will already be meeting the requirements set out in the new rules, which do not raise the bar above what is already required by Cross Compliance under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These guidelines are just the starting point and will not be enough on their own to restore our water environments.

In Wales, farmers are expected to follow the voluntary Code of Good Agricultural Practice (CoGAP). However, the number of recorded incidents of agricultural pollution clearly demonstrates that the code is insufficient and that a far more robust and enforceable suite of legally binding rules is required if we are to protect the freshwater environment and its many dependant species.

In Scotland more than three quarters of land area (more than 5.5 million hectares) is used for agriculture. Farmers are bound by Diffuse Pollution General Binding Rules (DP GBRs) and by the rules and guidelines outlined in the Prevention of Environmental Pollution From Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) code of good practice, which includes do’s and don’ts - some of them linked to Single Farm Payment (SFP).

 


The critical element, for all countries in the UK, is how these rules will be enforced.

If you see any incidents or bad practices, or any agricultural activity negatively impacting our water courses, please take a photo; note the time, date and location; report it to your relevant body; and get in touch with us using the form above.

What are S&TC doing about agricultural pollution across the UK?

Here at S&TC, we believe we need new environmental land management policies across the UK.

These must be underpinned by strong regulatory baselines, which will require urgent investment in a fair and effective enforcement regime. However, evidence shows that changing farming practises – eg by better soil management – can lead to win wins for farmers and the environment; the best way forward!

To this end, we are working hard behind the scenes to enact much needed change and ensure enforcement.

We continue to lobby with colleagues at Wildlife and Countryside Link (England), Wales Environment Link (Wales) and other Scottish NGO's for a sustainable future for farming and the environment; but in the meantime you can help us get our campaign off the ground by submitting your own information.

agricultural pollution

Latest Agricultural Pollution News

#ProtectWater campaign success: brilliant news for our waters and fish

06/12/2018
First success for #ProtectWater campaign Thanks to an extensive collaborative effort from over 100 NGO’s across Europe, including S&TC, an important first milestone has been achieved in the defence of our water’s environmental protection laws. A paper drafted by a group of government officials, seeking to weaken the laws which currently protect our waters, has […]

S&TC Cymru welcomes new agricultural pollution regulations

19/11/2018
Welcome news from Wales: New regulatory measures to tackle agricultural pollution Following an extensive lobbying exercise, S&TC Cymru are greatly encouraged by the recent announcement by Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, to introduce regulatory measures to combat the growing threat to the freshwater environment from agricultural pollution. The […]

S&TC response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee consultation over the Agriculture Bill 2018

09/10/2018
S&TC’s EFRA response S&TC respond to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee consultation over the Agriculture Bill 2018. Our Head of Science and Environmental Policy, Dr Janina Gray, recently wrote about the Bill, stating that, while we cautiously welcome the Bill, the devil will be in the detail and especially in the amount of […]

Agricultural Bill: Is a ‘Green Brexit’ possible?

20/09/2018
The first major Agriculture Bill for over 70 years has now been published, promising a cleaner, greener and healthier environment post Brexit Currently farmers receive €4 billion in subsides each year, which is divided up related to the total amount of land farmed. For current subsidies farmers do not need to ‘do’ anything. The new […]

Dwindling flylife evidences a worrying decline of the River Test

20/07/2018
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Afon Myddyfi – Photo Story

29/06/2018
  What is happening on the Myddfyi? The Myddyfi rises from a network of ditches and drains to the north of Salem, in the heart of rural Carmarthenshire, and flows first to the southwest, and then southwards towards Pentrefelin, before joining the Tywi at Cilsan. It appears to enjoy good health along much of its […]

River Avon: Riverfly Census Results

28/06/2018
River Avon Riverfly Census The results are in from our ground-breaking Riverfly Census campaign for the River Avon. View the results below and read more about what we found, why it is important, and what we are doing next! view our Fact Sheet Read our Report view our Data pack What is the River Avon […]

S&TC Cymru: Snapshot survey of the River Tywi (Towy)

18/06/2018
  S&TC Cymru has reacted to growing concerns surrounding the prolific algal growth witnessed on the Tywi over recent weeks by conducting a snapshot survey of the most affected part of the river. Conditions at the time of the visit (11th of June 2018) reflected a prolonged absence of rain coupled with long days of […]

Our View: Post-Brexit Green Watchdog is not good enough

01/06/2018
Alas, it seems as though our fears for environmental regulation once we lave the EU – based on a post Brexit Green Watchdog – are being realised.   The much-heralded independent statutory environmental body to take the place of the EU’s DG Environment when we leave Europe will not have any real power, even though The […]

Wales Update: Agricultural Pollution, Wales Link & Species Champs

30/05/2018
Welsh Agricultural Pollution We have been involved in tackling agricultural pollution with a number of different organisations. One of our tools has been a  joint letter to Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs. The letter highlighted the chronic and pervasive issue of agricultural pollution in Wales, signed by a number of […]

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