Agricultural diffuse pollution—regulation and enforcement
Agricultural diffuse pollution—regulation and enforcement

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Agricultural diffuse pollution—regulation and enforcement
  • Brexit impact
  • Agricultural diffuse pollution
  • What is diffuse water pollution?
  • Regulation of agricultural diffuse pollution
  • Water Framework Directive
  • Nitrates Directive
  • Common Agricultural Policy
  • Regulation in England and Wales
  • Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018
  • More...

Brexit impact

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—impact on environmental law and News Analysis: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.

Agricultural diffuse pollution

Diffuse agricultural pollution is contamination of the soil, air and water environment resulting from farming activities. This pollution tends to arise over a wide geographical area and is dependent on what happens on the surface of the land. Activities such as ploughing, seedbed preparation, crop spraying, fertiliser spreading and applying slurry may all contribute to diffuse pollution. Run-off from farm roads and yards, the surface of fields and dusty roofs after rainfall are all potential sources of pollution. There is therefore a wide range of potential diffuse pollution sources which are associated with farming practices and which can harm the environment.

Diffuse pollution from agriculture is a significant source of pollution in England as 70% of land is farmed. It is also a significant issue in Wales, for example Natural Resources Wales (NRW) deals with approximately 70–120 slurry pollution incidents from farms each year.

The main sources of diffuse pollution from agriculture are:

  1. fertilisers—nitrogen, phosphates and

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