A passionate part of Dorset CAN’s vision for the future of Dorset is to have rivers and beaches clean enough to swim in. At the moment, many of the county’s rivers are fouled by run-off from farms, industrial effluent, poorly maintained septic tanks and even by emergency release of raw sewage by the water companies.
So we welcome the announcement by the government, on 2 August 2021, of a doubling of funds for the popular Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme, so that it can cover every farm in England. The programme – which is a partnership between Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency – provides free individual advice to farmers to help them reduce water and air pollution through management of farmyard manure, soils and other material. In recent years, this scheme reduced the number of serious water pollution incidents by almost a fifth, and helped farmers access £100m in grants to help protect the environment.
The funding for the programme will now be almost doubled, with an additional £17m over the next three years. The extra funding will provide 50 new Environment Agency inspectors and more Natural England advisers to help farmers implement practical solutions to reduce pollution, including planting new grassland buffer strips to improve drainage, establishing riverside trees to reduce run off into rivers and using better slurry storage facilities to avoid accidental spillage. Currently around 40% of farmers are involved in the scheme: with the extra funding, Defra aims to have every farmer in the country taking part by 2023.
Untreated effluent was released into waterways for more than three million hours last year. According to the BBC: Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said that his organisation was "working actively with the water companies to ensure overflows are properly controlled". He also said that the harm they do to the environment needed to be stopped.
The Rivers Trust, which campaigns to protect river environments in England and Wales, said: "This is a shocking volume of untreated contaminated wastewater reaching our rivers and shows that our current approach and infrastructure, managing storm water in particular, needs a radical overhaul."
BBC News item