Agriculture Sector News

New rules to counter diffuse water pollution

The new Farming Rules for Water came into force on 2 April. Designed to prevent diffuse water pollution under the Water Framework Directive, there are eight rules governing the management of manure, soil and fertiliser in order to prevent pollution of watercourses. Defra seems to have heeded some of the advice it received during the consultation period: although the rules sit within a regulatory framework and will be enforced by the Environment Agency (EA), an advice-led approach will be taken in the event of a breach rather than an instant penalty. However, the NFU warns that this more holistic approach may not apply if any of the rules already covered by cross-compliance, or NVZ requirements, are breached. These rules are due to be reviewed in 2021.

Do you have an abstraction licence?

The NFU wants to encourage those who have flow conditions on their abstraction licences to respond to an Environment Agency online survey. The EA wants feedback from abstractors about the notification process governing the activation of flow control restrictions on their licences. It is probably reasonable to assume that abstraction will become an increasingly fraught issue, despite this year's wet spring, so the more views from licensees to feed into the decision-making process, the better.

New permitted development rights for farms

On 5 March, Dominic Raab, the Housing Minister, announced changes to permitted development rights which will allow up to five new homes to be built from an existing agricultural building, which represents a change from the current limit of three. It is hoped that these changes will boost the number of new homes created through the conversion of agricultural buildings and help meet local housing needs. The final part of the announcement was the increase in the size of new agricultural buildings on larger farms from 465 square metres to 1,000 square metres.

Grant available for restoring historic farm buildings

A pilot project to fund the restoration of historic farm buildings in five national parks has just been launched by Defra, Natural England, and Historic England. Eligible owners have until the end of January 2019 to apply for funding; the application process itself...

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