23 June 1995

New laws would see owners footing clean-up bills: CLA

LANDOWNERS and farmers face unjust and potentially ruinous consequences if the Environment Bill completes its parliamentary process next week without amendment, says the Country Landowners Association.

CLA president Hugh Duberly has written to junior environment minister Robert Atkins urging changes to the Bill. As it stands, the Bill will pass the burden for clearing up pollution to property owners if the polluter cannot be traced.

The CLA says innocent owners should not have to face unlimited clean-up bills for other peoples contamination.

Liability for clearance

Mr Duberly says liability for clearing up pollution caused by others should be limited to the value of the land after the work has been carried out. This would put a reasonable cap on liabilities, he argues. It would also encourage local authorities to go after polluters in line with the governments vaunted "polluter pays" principle rather than going for the sitting target of the current owner.

&#8226 The CLA claims that as a result of its representations the European Commission is planning to ease the penalty for farmers who make errors of more than 20% in land areas on IACS forms. It is proposing to replace total loss of area payments with graduated penalties.