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14 July 2023

The UK government has announced new legislation that removes the £250,000 cap on penalties for environmental polluters. Regulators, such as the Environment Agency and Natural England, will now have the power to impose unlimited fines on operators who breach environmental permits. This aims to particularly tackle water pollution. 

Investigation website openDemocray has identified a loophole in UK pollution legislation that allows farmers to pollute rivers by spreading excess manure onto farm soils without facing consequences in most cases. The investigation shows that the government's 2018 Farming Rules for Water, aimed at cleaning up waterways, were altered after talks with the National Farmers' Union (NFU).

A new economic analysis by AHDB shows that the new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) 2023 could benefit farmers by providing higher payments for soil actions. While the net profit increase may be minimal due to reduced Direct Payments, stacking multiple compatible actions together can lead to improvement.

The European Court of Auditors has criticized the European Commission and EU member states for not being ambitious enough in protecting EU soil, as nearly 70% of it was found to be unhealthy. EU proposals to regulate protected soils lack binding protection measures,and current policies were found to have a limited impact and derogations granted to member states are problematic.

The European Parliament has voted in favour of the EU Nature Restoration Law, defeating a rejection attempt by right-wing groups. Discussions will now take place between the Parliament and EU countries to finalize the legislation. The law aims to introduce binding targets to restore Europe's nature. 

Farmers are often failing to utilize the results of soil and manure analysis, and often lack trust in the results, according to Dr. Sajjad Awan, a NRM soil and crop nutritionist. At a recent ‘Down to Earth’ regenerative event, he urged for the measuring and use of all information available to farmers to make informed decisions in regenerative agriculture.

An experiment by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has disproven critics’ of a peat-ban concerns that certain plants, such as carnivorous plants, can not be grown without peat-based compost products. The experiment showed carnivorous plants grown peat-free outperformed those grown in peat, providing evidence to support the ban.

Scientists raise concern for global insect populations declining at a rate of nearly 1% per year, which has significant consequences for pollination, pest control, and soil fertility. The decline of pollinators is already affecting crop yields. To address this issue they argue protecting and managing pollinating insects should be considered a vital agricultural practice.

A multi-disciplinary research paper explores the effects of current land protection laws in Chile and suggests new legislation to safeguard the country's soils. It compares Chile's existing laws with those of Costa Rica and Spain, emphasizing the importance of unifying legislation and learning from successful practices in other countries.