HL Deb 22 January 1985 vol 459 cc214-6WA
Lord Stanley of Alderley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recommendations on good agricultural practice they propose to make in accordance with Section 31 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

Lord Belstead

The Secretary of State for Wales and my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have published today a Code of Good Agricultural Practice which gives guidance to farmers on minimising the risk of water pollution from fertilisers, pesticides, manures, silage and farm wastes. The code has been prepared in consultation with the farming and water industries and other interested organisations. The main points of the code are highlighted in a guide which is being sent to all farmers in England and Wales.

This marks a further step in the Government's programme for environmental protection. By adhering to the published guidelines farmers will help reduce the current level of water pollution which is a matter of concern to us all. I believe that the vast majority of farmers care for the countryside in which they live and I urge them all to follow the code.

The code relates to Section 31 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. Under this section it is an offence knowingly to permit any poisonous, noxious or polluting substances to enter water, including underground water. The section recognises that farmers use potentially polluting substances in the course of normal farming practices which may result in the accidental pollution of water. It therefore provides that no offence is committed if the pollution was caused through an action in accordance with good agricultural practice.

The code summarises the main operating points and refers to advisory publications available from the Ministry of Agriculture and other sources for advice on specific details. If farmers are in any doubt whether an activity is likely to cause pollution they should consult my Agricultural Development and Advisory Service.