6 September 2000
Farmer polluter figures low

By FWi staff

FARMERS make up a small percentage of prosecutions by the governments environmental watchdog for pollution offences, new figures show.

In the past year the Environment Agency prosecuted more than 4000 individuals and businesses for environmental pollution leading to fines of 2.8m, its annual report reveals.

But Sir John Harman, chairman of the Agency, told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme a remarkably small number of prosecutions were due to farming.

While a lot of incidents were reported — about 15% of water pollution cases — there were only 20 prosecutions at the end of the day.

Sir John said this was partly due to the good relations the agency had with farmers.

But he warned that as industrial pollution is reduced, diffuse sources of pollution — such as farming — will become more evident.

In recent weeks there have been a number of cases of large-scale fish kills caused by poor slurry spreading.