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?


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

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