Water clean-up plan must address nitrogen pollution from farming – Soil Association 

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The Soil Association says a coherent strategy for tackling nitrogen pollution from farming should have been included in the Government’s £1.6 billion water clean up plan, announced earlier this week. 

Water pollution in Britain has worsened dramatically in recent years as water companies have increased the number of occasions they discharge untreated sewage into rivers and coastal waters. Last week, Keir Starmer accusing the government of “turning Britain’s waterways into an open sewer” last week. 

While the clean up plan has received a partial welcomed – and hailed as a victory by some local river protection and wild swimming groups – it does little to tackle farm generated pollution at source. 

“Soil Association Head of Farming Policy Gareth Morgan said: “This is a missed opportunity for joined up environmental policies. The government needs a coherent plan if it is to reach its own target of a 40% reduction in nitrogen pollution in our rivers.

“This must address the significant volume of nitrogen pollution coming direct from farming operations into our rivers. We know it will be impossible to clean up British rivers without a rapid shift to lower input, nature-friendly farming across the UK. And this requires a move away from artificial fertilisers and a shift towards nature-based solutions, as already demonstrated by organic and agroecological farmers.

“This will require a mix of positive incentives and sound advice for farmers to steer them on the right course combined with robust regulation to achieve the outcomes our rivers so desperately need.”

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