Policy

Soils ‘policy’ is determined by a wide variety of organisation, not limited to national and devolved governments and the various enforcement agencies.  Land management is also driven by research and recommendations by NGOs, farming groups, businesses and scientists – calls to action which aim to influence government policy and farmer behaviour and the role of numerous organisation in-between.  

The following is a collection of the most authoritative and influential, categorised according to the organisation responsible.

Anything to add: if there are relevant pieces of literature missing from this library, please contact us with any suggestions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk

2021

Climate Change Committee 

Advice to government for the UK’s third Climate Change Risk Assessment. Risks to soil health is identified as one of the 8 highest priorities.

Environmental Land Management Schemes: Overview

2021

Defra

Explains what the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes are, and how you can get involved.

The Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations

2021

Welsh Government

Regulations aimed at protecting water quality by controlling agricultural pollution.

Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI)

2021

Defra

One of three new schemes making up the post-Brexit Environment Land Management scheme (ELM).

Agriculture Bill

2020

Defra

Soil is an essential natural asset and its careful management can help to provide a whole range of public goods. Soil is specifically named so we can provide financial assistance to farmers for protecting or improving its quality.

Agriculture (Wales) White Paper

2020

Welsh Government

The White Paper sets out the Welsh Government's intentions for primary legislation and provides the basis of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill.

Sustainable Farming and our Land: simplifying agricultural support

2020

Welsh Government

This consultation will provide a framework to support the competitiveness of farming and food production and respond to the climate emergency ahead of the planned introduction of an Agriculture (Wales) Bill.

Advice on the 25 Year Environment Plan and Progress Reports

2020

Natural Capital Committee

Advising the government on the implementation of the 25 YEP; including the development of suitable metrics to be used to track progress against the Plan’s objectives.

Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2020

2019

Defra

Meeting the rules guidance here. GAEC 4: Providing minimum soil cover guidance here. GAEC 5: Minimising soil erosion guidance here. GAEC 6: Maintaining the level of organic matter in soil guidance here.

Future Farming: Changes to Farming in England

2019

Defra

Farming is changing: here’s what you need to know. This leaflet sets out the intended changes to English agricultural policy as the UK leaves the EU.

Advice on Soil Management

2019

Natural Capital Committee

State of the UK’s soils, measures in place to protect them, steps to improve their condition, and how changes can be evaluated. Recommendations for protecting and improving soil natural capital.

Sustaining the Soil Microbiome

2019

Parliamentary Office of Science & Tech.

Communities of microorganisms in soils underpin natural processes in soil habitats. This note gives an overview of benefits provided by & ways of assessing the soil microbiome, and measures to improve its condition.

Sustainable Seas Report

2019

Environmental Audit Committee

As much as 40% of the world’s oceans are heavily affected by human activities. Climate change, overfishing and pollution are the three greatest threats to the ocean.

Clean Air Strategy

2019

UK Government

Government must act to tackle air pollution which shortens lives. Air pollution is a result of the way we currently generate power, heat homes, produce food, manufacture consumer goods & power transport.

Draft Environment (Principles & Governance) Bill

2018

Defra

The draft sets out how environmental standards will be maintained as England leaves the EU and builds on the vision of the 25 YEP.

UK Progress on Reducing Nitrate Pollution

2018

Environmental Audit Committee

High levels of nitrates in water cause oxygen depletion which is harmful to humans & biodiversity.

The Government's 25 Year Plan for the Environment

2018

Environmental Audit Committee

The 25 YEP lacks details of how objectives will be achieved. Legislation is required to implement key proposals & ensure lasting impact.

Code of Practice for the Sustainable Use of Soils on Construction Sites

2018

Defra

Some of the most significant impacts on soils occur as a result of construction activity, yet it appears there is a lack of awareness and understanding within the industry.

Health & Harmony: the future for food, farming & the environment in a Green Brexit

2018

Defra

Leaving the EU provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform agriculture… so as better to promote health and harmony.

NI Future Agricultural Policy Framework Consultation

2018

DAERA

The Department is engaging with the wider farming, food and environmental sectors on a possible future agricultural policy framework for Northern Ireland.

Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy

2018

DAERA

The report follows a recommendation by the Agri Food Strategy Board in ‘Going for Growth’ that a strategic land management policy should be developed.

Stability and Simplicity: proposals for a rural funding transition period

2018

Scottish Government

This consultation forms part of the civic conversation being led by the National Council of Rural Advisors, to start the debate on a comprehensive new approach to supporting the rural economy to achieve world class agricultural and environmental outcomes.

The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland)

2017

UK Parliament

The European Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) has been transposed into Northern Ireland regulations through The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017.

UK Biodiversity Action Plan: Lowland Raised Bog

2016

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Lowland raised bogs are peatland ecosystems which develop primarily where drainage may be impeded; waterlogging provides anaerobic conditions which leads to an accumulation of peat, (elevating) the bog surface to form a gently-curving dome.

Soil Health: First Report of Session 2016-17

2016

Environmental Audit Committee

Soil is crucial to society. Neglecting soil health could have dire consequences for food security, climate change & public health.

Environment (Wales) Act

2016

Welsh Government

To promote sustainable management of natural resources. 

Securing UK Soil Health

2015

Parliamentary Office of Science & Tech.

In England & Wales, soil degradation costs c.£1bn/year. This brief outlines evidence for measures that sustain soils & existing policies affecting soil health.

Rules for Farmers and Land Managers to Prevent Water Pollution

2015

Defra

We need a combination of different actions to tackle agricultural diffuse pollution of water effectively.

Protecting & Improving Natural Capital for Prosperity & Wellbeing

2015

Natural Capital Committee

How to ensure England’s ‘natural wealth’ is managed efficiently and sustainably.

Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act

2015

Welsh Government

The ambition, permission and legal obligation to improve our social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being.

Natural Environment White Paper: Implementation update report

2014

Defra

A healthy natural environment is the foundation of sustained economic growth, prospering communities and personal wellbeing.

UK National Ecosystem Assessment

2014

Defra

The natural world is critically important to wellbeing & economic prosperity, but consistently undervalued in economic analyses & decision making.

Scottish Biodiversity Strategy

2013

Scottish Government

The Scottish biodiversity strategy is made up of two documents: a strategy for conserving biodiversity in Scotland up to 2030 and a plan to  achieve the desired outcomes of the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2020 and the UN Aichi targets.

The Natural Choice: Securing the value of nature

2011

Defra

Nature is sometimes taken for granted and undervalued. But people cannot flourish without the benefits & services our natural environment provides.

Safeguarding our Soils: A Strategy for England

2011

Defra

Along with air and water, soil is one of the building blocks of life. Yet it is so much a part of everyday life that there’s a danger of taking it for granted.

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations

2011

Scottish Government

These regulations seek to tackle diffuse agricultural pollution and were created to comply with the Water Framework Directive.

Soil Strategy for England - Supporting Evidence Paper

2009

Defra

Along with air and water, soil is one of the building blocks of life. Yet it is so much a part of everyday life that there’s a danger of taking it for granted.

Scottish Soil Framework

2009

Scottish Government

This framework is aimed at government policy leads, delivery partners, environmental and business NGOs, research organisations and other key stakeholders with an interest.

POSTnote: UK Soil Degradation

2006

Parliamentary Office of Science & Tech.

The nature and extent of soil degradation in the UK, and the challenges and opportunities for soils in a changing climate.

The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order

2002

UK Parliament

The main aim of the Order is to make provision for a variety of environmental issues, with specific regard to pollution prevention and control, air quality and areas of special scientific interest (ASSI).

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