Euro-MPs meeting in Strasbourg have voted in favour of a new Directive on soil protection, in a move that will lead to more legislation on the way farmers manage their land in the years ahead.
Although there is still a long way to go in the EU legislative process – this was just the first reading of the Commission’s proposals in the European parliament, and environment ministers will also have an input – this week’s vote has set the ball rolling.
The NFU is adamant that further regulation is not necessary and will only add to cost and bureaucracy. It maintains that existing measures such as cross compliance, agri-environment schemes and the Water Framework Directive already provide sufficient protection.
A spokesman at the NFU’s Brussels office said that there had been some helpful amendments agreed by the Euro-MPs that could soften the blow. In particular, the parliament had removed pig and poultry units from the list of “potentially polluting activities” to be targeted in the new legislation. It had also tightened the definition of “compaction” to mean “lasting change” rather than just a temporary change that might result from rolling a field.
But it had also broadened the definition of “dangerous substances” to be covered by the Directive.