Salmon & Trout Conservation has raised concerns about the Government’s Agriculture Bill. Currently, UK farmers receive four billion euros in subsidies each year, which is awarded on the basis of farm size. The new Bill proposes that farmers be paid for delivering public goods: things that cannot be bought in a shop, such as clean water, flood prevention, thriving wildlife and healthy soils. S&TC is concerned about the planned funding, enforcement and time scale. The charity’s ground-breaking Riverfly Census has provided scientific evidence of ongoing nationwide agricultural pollution (phosphates and sediment) that is destroying insects and fish. But current inadequate laws allow farmers to escape punishment. S&TC says, “For the small minority of farmers which do pollute, sometimes repetitively, strong action must be taken.” Change may take a long time. Government proposes the current system of payments under the EU’S Common Agricultural Policy will continue until 2021, and then there will be a seven-year transition period to the new system, where the old payments will gradually taper off.
Will Government beef up pollution laws?