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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL14811, tabled on 12 April 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of restricting the spreading of slurry on fields that are adjacent to residential property.

Answered on

26 April 2021

Within England there are rules in place to ensure that slurry is applied responsibly with regard to the environment to minimise the risk of it affecting nearby ecosystems and other sites via runoff. These include:

  • The Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations (2015), which control the application of nutrient rich material to land within designated areas vulnerable to the impact of excess nutrients. Further guidance can be found here on Gov.uk.
  • The Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (England) Regulations (2010); also known as SSAFO which set minimum standards for storage of organic manures to protect the environment. Further guidance can be found here on Gov.uk.
  • The Farming Rules for Water (2018) which outlines a national baseline for how to use fertilisers effectively for crop need and avoid spreading in inappropriate places or conditions. Further guidance can be found here on Gov.uk.

These regulations do include rules about where fertilisers, including slurry can be spread, however, there are no specific requirements on farmers not to spread next to houses, nor are there any plans to introduce this type of restriction.

Any proposal to include such a requirement would need to consider the effects on farmers, given that agricultural fields are business premises that farmers have to be able to grow crops on. Many farms rely on slurry application to fertilise their soil.

If there are any complaints about specific farms the local council should be informed. Local councils are responsible for investigating complaints about issues that could be a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This includes any smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance.

Local authority environmental health officers take into account a number of factors when assessing whether a statutory nuisance exists, including the reasonableness of the activity being carried out, the time of day of the occurrence, its duration, its frequency of occurrence and whether or not best practicable means were being employed. These principles are based on long established case law.