The Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018 came into effect on 2nd April 2018. The Regulations impose new rules to those in control of agricultural land to prevent manure, fertiliser and soil from agricultural activity getting into inland freshwaters, coastal waters, springs, wells and boreholes.
The Regulations intend to build on good farming practices to ensure that farmers manage their land to avoid water pollution and to improve farm efficiency. The rules require fertilisers to be spread to meet crop and soils needs and to safeguard water quality by requiring farmers to judge when it is best to apply fertilisers, where to store manures and how to avoid pollution from soil erosion. The regulations should help to reduce pollution overall as well as creating cost savings for farmers as fertiliser and top soil losses will be reduced.
The key requirements of the regulations are the application of organic and manufactured fertiliser to agricultural land is prohibited where the soil is waterlogged, flooded, snow covered or frozen. The application of fertiliser must not exceed the needs of the soil and crop or give rise to a significant risk of agricultural diffuse pollution, there are specific factors which have been introduced to indicate significant risk of pollution. In essence, the application of fertilisers must take into account the weather conditions and forecasts at the time of application. The regulations also impose distance restrictions when organic manures are being applied, it must not be applied within 10 metres of inland waters or coastal waters or within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole. Manufactured fertilisers must not be applied with two metres of inland water, coastal waters, springs, wells or boreholes.
The regulations impose similar rules to the storage of organic manures and livestock feeders which must not be stored within 10 metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters or within 50 metres of a spring, well or boreholes.
With the regulations in place, all reasonable precautions should also be taken to prevent pollution resulting from land management and cultivation practices on agricultural land. It is a criminal offence to not comply with the regulations, which will be enforced by the Environment Agency through farm inspections. A person found guilty of an offence will be liable to a fine dependent on the seriousness of the offence.