Q1: In the Explanatory Memorandum you say that the Regulations complement existing regulatory regimes such as the Nitrates Pollution Prevention Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/668) and the Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (England) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/639), and also form part of the implementation of Article 11(3)(h) of the Water Framework Directive, which requires member States to implement basic measures to prevent or control pollution from diffuse sources. What deadline was set by the Water Framework Directive for implementation of Article 11(3)(h)? Is the UK late in doing so and, if so, is it subject to proceedings by the European Commission?
A1: The European Commission has raised concerns about existing measures to implement Article 11(3)(h) of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in England to tackle agricultural diffuse pollution, in correspondence and in wider infraction proceedings on the WFD (see this Press Release). The government recognises more could and should be done to address the problems posed by agricultural diffuse pollution and this is reflected in the goals set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan. These Regulations are therefore designed to help achieve these goals and supplement our current implementation of Article 11(3)(h) WFD.
Q2: If the Regulations complement the regimes established by SIs from 2015 and 2010, why are the latest Regulations being laid only in 2018?
A2: The government consulted informally with stakeholders on design principles and proposals to tackle agricultural diffuse pollution in 2014. Following that, in 2015, the government consulted formally on a set of proposals to establish a new regulatory baseline for all farmers to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture. The responses to that consultation formed the basis of the regulations contained in the SI. Since 2015, progress was slower than anticipated, in part due to the Referendum in 2016 on leaving the European Union and the General Election in 2017. We have taken time to ensure that the regulations respond to the evidence raised during the consultation and the opportunities and challenges for agriculture on leaving the European Union.
19 February 2018