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Agricultural Pollution Raised up the Political Agenda

Picture: A brown-coloured River Wye: the effects of having excessive soil in the water

The following article is available at

The Angling Trust has led a group of non-governmental organisations in writing an article highlighting the impact of agricultural pollution on the water environment, which is published in the Agriculture edition of The Parliamentary Review 2014/15.

The article details how poor soil management, excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides and unrestricted livestock access to watercourses pose a real and growing threat to our nation’s water supplies, bathing water quality, flood risk, biodiversity and fisheries.

Late-harvested crops such as maize and potatoes tend to cause the most damage to soil, with one study finding that 75% of maize fields had degraded soil structure, generating enhanced surface-water runoff.  Maize production has doubled since 2005, principally to fuel heavily subsidised anaerobic digesters. Generous public funds therefore encourage farmers to switch to maize as an energy crop that causes pollution and flooding and erodes the soil that underpins long-term food security.

The document has been sent to tens of thousands of leading policymakers including all MPs, House of Lords’ peers and leaders from across the agriculture arena.  The total distribution of the Review across all policy areas is over 250,000 and the Angling Trust will be following up the message by co-hosting a rural reception at each of the main political party conferences this autumn.

The Parliamentary Review aims to showcase best practice as a learning tool to the public and private sector, with the Agriculture edition aimed particularly at leading policymakers and executives in agriculture.

The Review also consists of a look back at the year in agriculture and Westminster, with introductions from the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and National Farmers’ Union president Meurig Raymond. The political commentary is written by Mark D’Arcy, the BBC’s parliamentary correspondent.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, said: “Farming on much of our land is not only causing pollution but it is also threatening its own long-term viability because soil is being badly managed, resulting in a huge amount of precious topsoil being washed into rivers and out to sea.  This sediment has a huge impact on invertebrate, fish and bird life by smothering gravels in rivers and polluting the water with agri-chemicals.  We are calling on the government to properly regulate this industry – which is subsidised with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money –and stop it polluting our watercourses.”


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