21 March 2000
Farmers face massive pollution bills

By FWi staff

THE Environment Agency has refused to back down from its “polluter pays” stance on regulating environmental legislation, despite criticism from MPs.

Intensive pig and poultry farmers who pollute the environment will be fined under proposed legislation on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPS).

They aim to ensure that the cost of the environmental protection is borne by those whose activities pose a threat to the environment rather than by taxpayers.

Details for implementing the regime have not yet been finalised and the subject will be discussed with representatives from the National Farmers Union.

The Agency proposes that English and Welsh farmers will face an initial charge of up to 18,000 in the first year and around 7000 a year thereafter

New regulations will affect intensive poultry farms in 2003 and pig farms in 2004, but a European directive says they dont have to be introduced until 2007.

The English and Welsh charges, which are twice those proposed for Scotland, have been criticised by the House of Commons Agriculture Select Committee.

Charges should be based on the marginal cost of providing the service rather than on the principle of “full economic cost recovery”, said a committee report.

There is no evidence of other EU countries imposing the legislation ahead of time and UK farmers should not be burdened by costs not in place elsewhere.