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Farming Rules for Water - What you need to know

Last updated: 30 Aug 2019

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On April 2nd 2018, the Farming Rules for Water (otherwise know as the Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018) came into force.

This article is a reminder of the rules which can be found on the T&T website here.

The rules came into force April 2nd 2018. The Environment Agency have said that the first year will be treated as a 'settling in' period so enforcement action will be withheld for these specific rules but on farm advice will still be provided. From April 2019 farmers can expect to be prosecuted if they are found to be still breaching the new rules after receiving advice to resolve an issue from the EA.

Tried & Tested have produced a briefing on the rules which is available here

Further clarification around rule one

Following the introduction of the Farming Rules for Water, there was some uncertainty among farmers about the implications of the first rule on specific organic manures and the timing of spreading.

The Environment Agency produced further guidance which can read in our article 'Clarification on Rule 1'. 

Similar rules

While there is some crossover between the Farming Rules for Water and other rules such as those for nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ) and storing silage, slurry and agricultural fuel oil (SSAFO), it is quite possible to be compliant with one set of rules and not the other.

For instance, if your farm falls within an NVZ, you may need to take extra steps to comply with the farming rules for water beyond those found in The guide to cross compliance in England 2019. This is because the farming rules for water require farmers to have regard to more nutrients than just nitrogen.

It is also worth noting that regulators can still bring enforcement action under the NVZ and SSAFO rules to address poor manure management, soil run off and water pollution without taking the advice-led approach of the farming rules for water beforehand.

Further information

  • Government guidance on the rules can be found here.
  • A Q&A document to answer the most frequently asked questions can be viewed on the Farming Advice Service website.
  • You can contact the Environment Agency’s National Customer Contact Centre, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm by dialling 03708 506 506 or emailing [email protected].
  • If you are an NFU member, you can speak to a specialist adviser in their CallFirst team by dialling 0370 845 8458.