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MEP slams Gove for hitting farmers while ignoring transport in Clean Air Strategy

An MEP has slammed Defra Secretary Michael Gove for clamping down on ammonia emissions from farming while ignoring the biggest contributor to air pollution problems – road transport.


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MEP slams Gove for hitting farmers while ignoring transport in Clean Air Strategy

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West of England, made the remarks in an exclusive article for Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub.

 

In the piece, she claimed the Government’s refusal to face down the motoring lobby meant it was not serious about cleaning up the UK’s air.

 

Her comments came shortly after the release of Defra’s Clean Air Strategy, which set out plans to force farmers to invest in infrastructure and equipment to bring ammonia emissions down.

 

Ms Scott Cato said: “Perhaps what is most breath-taking about the Government’s strategy, and likely to annoy farmers the most, is the fact that road transport, by far the greatest cause of air pollution-related deaths and health problems, receives just three paragraphs in the consultation, while ammonia receives six pages.


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“The UK will soon be outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and environmental protection could become the domain of a completely toothless environment watchdog.

 

“So the Government can look as if it is serious about tackling air pollution while really just biding its time.

 

“And it can avoid taking on the main culprit – the motoring lobby – safe in the knowledge that soon there will be no penalties for breaching EU air quality regulations.”

 

Other proposed measures for tackling ammonia emissions in the Clean Air Strategy include:

  • Introducing permits similar to those required for intensive pig and poultry units for the biggest dairy farms
  • Requiring farmers to spread urea-based fertilisers with urease inhibitors, unless applied by injection
  • Introducing mandatory design standards for new livestock housing by 2022
  • Requiring all solid manure and digestate spread to bare land to be incorporated within 12 hours by 2022
  • Requiring all slurry and digestate stores and manure heaps to be covered by 2027
  • Introducing maximum limits for organic and inorganic fertiliser application
  • Requiring farmers to spread slurries and digestate using low-emission spreading equipment by 2027

Farmers have already expressed concern about the proposals, with one suggesting they would force him to get rid of his livestock.

 

 

Others pointed out the conflict between the new requirements and a restrictive countryside planning policy.

 

 

A Defra spokesman said: “The Clean Air Strategy is the most ambitious air pollution plan in a generation, putting the UK ahead of many EU member states in its goals.

 

“We know ammonia emissions can be damaging to the environment and public health, contributing to urban smog and damaging natural habitats. That is why part of our strategy is about reducing these emissions – 88 per cent of which are caused from agriculture – by supporting farmers to invest in the infrastructure and equipment they need.

 

“It is also misleading to say that air pollution problems from transport are not being tackled. This government is ending the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, supported by a £3.5 billion investment in cleaner transport.”

 

To read Ms Scott Cato’s piece in full, click HERE.

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