Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:
"Healthy rivers are necessary for food production, water and the economy. Nitrate chemicals from farm fertilisers are building up in the ground beneath our feet. If they are released into waterways, experts warn they will devastate our marine life, our fresh water supply and cost billions to clean up. Our inquiry will look at the scale of the problem and what the Government should be doing about it."
NFU’s response to the inquiry can be found here along with responses from ENGO’s Water companies, academics and other agricultural organisations.
Some of the key messages voiced in the response were that nitrogen is not just a pollutant but also a vital requirement for crop growth and food production. Nitrogen use has reduced significantly in the last 25-30 years as a result of farmers adopting good practice, uptake of guidance professional advice, and participation in voluntary initiatives.
Agriculture often takes the full blame for nitrate pollution. For effective, efficient and fair solutions to reduce nitrate pollution, all sources such as sewage treatment works need to be addressed. Farmers already have an extensive range of regulation that they adhere to in order to prevent nitrate loss. The government can help reduce nitrate loss through financial support, improvements to agri-environment schemes and reviewing the current regulatory framework, particularly the nitrates directive.