15 September 1995

Agency gives pledge

FARMINGS difficulties in meeting EU and national environmental targets will not be ignored by the new Environmental Agency when it starts work next April.

Its chairman, Lord de Ramsey, promised that it would not become a remote quango that lost touch with grass roots issues. The only way it could succeed was by working through local people and local groups, he told the congress. The agency would work at national, regional and local levels but effective environmental protection could only be achieved locally.

To help do this the agency will set up a network of REPACS – regional environmental protection advice committees – where agriculture could be represented by farmer/landowner local authority members.

Later he said the agency would have many contacts with agriculture through its implementation of EU and national legislation.

A large part of this would be the work it was taking over from the National Rivers Authority on water purity. Lord de Ramsey said he thought pollution of water by pesticides posed more of a problem than nitrates. But he made it clear he was not happy with having to work towards arbitrary maximum residue figures or "surrogate zero" levels produced by modern testing techniques that revealed the minutest trace. &#42