9 February 1996

Environment Agency attacks government laxity on nitrates

By Tony McDougal

GOVERNMENT policy in rigorously following the European Commissions nitrates directive came under attack from chairman of the new Environment Agency, Lord De Ramsey, this week.

Speaking after the first EA public briefing in London on Tuesday, Lord De Ramsey criticised the Department of Environment for failing to be more forceful when the European legislation was first published.

Many farmers working in nitrate sensitive areas already face restrictions, and tougher legislation revolving around nitrate vulnerable zones is set to come into force in the near future.

Lord De Ramsey, who farms 2632ha (6500 acres) in Cambridgeshire, said: "A lot of money has been spent through the nitrate legislation, which has taken away valuable reserves for other important problems."

He also said the EA would work closely with farm research centres looking at new technology to cut pesticide waste, and satellite technology.

David Slater, EA director of pollution prevention and control, added: "We shall be looking to farmers for a more responsible use of pesticides and agrochemicals, and we have a target of recovering/recycling 40% of packaging waste by 2001."

The EA will combine the functions of the National Rivers Authority, Her Majestys Inspect-orate of Pollution and 83 local authority run Waste Regulation Authorities. It is a major plank in the governments deregulation initiative, and will have responsibility for water, land and air.

Nearly half the £560m annual budget will be spent on flood defence work (£260m). Spending on pollution prevention and control will amount to £165m, while £80m will be spent on improving water resources.

Up to 70% of the income will come from charging schemes, such as levies on local authorities. The remaining 30% will come from MAFF and DoE . &#42

Environment Agency

&#8226 Aim: To provide high quality environmental protection and improvement with emphasis on education, prevention and vigorous enforcement.

&#8226 Format: Will unite the National Rivers Authority, Her Majestys Inspectorate of Pollution and Waste Regulation Authorities in England and Wales under one umbrella.

&#8226 Launch date: Apr 1, 1996.

&#8226 Expenditure: £550-560m per annum.

&#8226 Staff: 9000.