Farming industries lead hostile response to groundwater rules

The farming and agrochemical industries have responded in unusually critical terms to proposals issued earlier this year by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) for new regulations on groundwater protection. They claim that the proposals will bring limited environmental benefits at a cripplingly high cost - much of which would stem from charges levied by the environment agencies. The agencies themselves are worried about the potential burden of authorising and policing many tens of thousands of groundwater discharges. The Government is now under pressure to reconsider the proposed charging system and to encourage the agencies to apply the regulations flexibly - but without breaching EC obligations.

The draft regulations were issued in January (ENDS Report 276, pp 42-43 ). They are needed solely to complete the overdue implementation of the 1980 EC Directive on groundwater protection. The Government faces the threat of legal action by the European Commission if it fails to transpose the EC rules rapidly and i

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