The Environment Agency is focusing on the wrong pollution control targets, says the TFA

LinkedIn +

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) believe that the Environment Agency (EA) is allowing a number of serious pollutive incidents to occur, due to the EA’s misguided pollution control focus. 

TFA members have reported that the EA has been failing to deal with situations where there are critical pollution control incidents, which have been allowed to carry on for months or years in some instances.

TFA adviser Kathleen Wolton said “Whilst the vast majority of farms and farmers seek to adhere to high pollution control standards, from time to time incidents do occur and on very rare occasions we know that there are some incidents of pollution control caused by the recklessness or negligence of individuals.”

“The TFA has always been clear that these incidents need to be tackled head on. However, what we are finding is that the EA is not acting with the urgency required.”

Ms Wolton added: “The TFA has been in unproductive dialogue with the EA to understand what practically can be done to stop the pollution from continuing. We have received no response other than to say that resource is stretched and that it is focused on priority matters.”

TFA adviser Kathleen Wolton

However, it is apparent that there has been a significant rise in the number of EA employed agriculture regulatory inspection officers, which, in turn, has led to an increase in the number of on farm inspections. With that, TFA members are reporting an aggressive and heavy handed approach to minor farm issues, such as incomplete records.

“It is essential that these new agricultural regulatory inspection officers are properly trained before engaging with farmers without supervision,” Ms Wolton states.

“We have received feedback that demonstrates a lack of understanding of legislative matters, but more concerningly, a lack of empathy with the farming community.”

As such, the TFA has approached the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee with the suggestion that the Committee holds a specific evidence session – as a follow up to previous Committee reviews of EA work.

“The TFA feels that the scrutiny the EFRA Committee can bring would be helpful in refocusing the priorities of the EA to direct intervention on critical pollution incidents, rather than taking a heavy handed approach with those already acting responsibly,” concluded Ms Wolton.

Share this story:

About Author

Journalist. Graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English and Art History. When not working I can be found riding my horses on the Ashdown Forest, reading, shopping, or cooking!