Young farmers with outstanding ideas for running a successful farm whilst caring for the environment and local water and air quality have been awarded the prestigious Great Farm Challenge Award 2019.
Ideas brought forward in this year’s competition included using a tramline to reduce the risk of water pollution and methods to stop cattle from drinking directly out of rivers to avoid damage to river banks.
Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming team, the Environment Agency and water companies for the areas involved - Severn Trent, Anglian Water and United Utilities – have awarded students from agricultural colleges from across the East of England, the North West and the West Midlands with the prestigious prize.
Regional award ceremonies were held last week in recognition of over 150 young agricultural students’ collaborative and innovative solutions to future farming.
The young farmers worked together on projects to assess and address the impact of different farm practices on their local natural environment and farm business. These projects were then developed into plans and presented to a panel of judges, with the participants demonstrating how they would care for the environment and run a successful farm whilst protecting local water and air quality.
This year Natural England are proud to announce that the regional winners and runners-up impressed the judging panel comprising representatives from Natural England, Environment Agency, water companies and Young Farmers’ Clubs with their plans for managing a successful farm. The young farmers focused on minimising run-off from pesticides, nutrients and suspended solids such as sediment and algae that can be problematic for aquatic life, whilst also looking at ways to improve air quality and use water wisely on the farm.
Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s Head of Agriculture, said:
It’s great to see so many young people engaged and positive about the future of farming. It’s even better that they so clearly understand the challenges of diffuse water pollution. This is good farming that is good for the environment, planned at a landscape scale - this is the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan being put into practice.
The students have gone above and beyond to find practical solutions for protecting water and air quality, assets and skills that will serve them well as tomorrow’s successful farmers.
Using a case study farm, some of the agricultural students discovered the management of tramlines could be an effective way to reduce the risk of sediment and phosphorus pollution of surface water. These young farmers presented their plans to change the direction of the tramlines to reduce the amount of sediment and pesticides moving into the water course from crop spraying, and advised the farmer to plough across slopes to avoid tramlines moving down slope. To avoid soil run-off into the water course, the students also proposed adding grass or vegetative buffer strips or crop parallel to the water course to catch sediments and pesticides.
James Eckely, National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs Chief Officer, said:
NFYFC is delighted that Leicestershire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs chairman and dairy farmer Alistair Hughes was part of the judging panel for an event that challenges young agricultural students to find solutions to improve water and air quality on farms.
YFC members are aware of the challenges, demands and opportunities ahead for their farming future and NFYFC commends the achievements of this collaborative project.
Notably, one college discovered the farm had not conducted soil testing in 15 years. Soil testing should be conducted every three years and is important for efficient nutrient management and for the assessment and minimisation of pollution of surface and ground water to conserve water quality, caused by agricultural practices.
Others looked at ways to prevent cattle from drinking directly from the river to avoid poaching and river bank damage, and came up with the solution of using water bays for cattle to drink from instead of the river.
The students noted that farmers could seek advice from their local Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers to find out what grants are available to help fund some of these actions.
Madeleine Gardner, Environment Agency Environmental Specialist, said:
I’m delighted to see the Environment Agency and Catchment Sensitive Farming team working alongside water companies and agricultural colleges across England to reward young agriculturalists for thinking about ways to protect local water quality.
I’m proud to be a part of the Great Farm Challenge and help to educate the next generation of farmers to think sustainably, and by sharing good water quality practices we’re reducing the issue of poor water quality – improving the local environment and farm businesses.
This year marks the 8th Great Farm Challenge. Since the Challenge started in 2011, over 1,170 students and land managers have engaged and got involved in improving water and air quality through best practice on farms.
Catchment Sensitive Farming is a partnership between Natural England, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency.
The Great Farm Challenge is a joint partnership, led by Natural England, Defra, Environment Agency and regional water companies Severn Trent, Anglian Water and United Utilities. As a collective, the partnership continues to nurture the next generation of farmers and encourage strategic solutions for our young farmers to carry throughout their careers.
Richard Reynolds, Anglian Water’s Senior Agronomist, said:
The Great Farm Challenge is a really important initiative and provides the farmers and advisors of the future with a practical and rewarding experience that will help develop their skills and techniques for protecting the water environment.
It is vital that the farming sector focuses on issues like pesticide run-off, nutrient management and watercourse protection if we are to continue delivering world-class produce whilst protecting drinking water sources and wildlife.
I was really impressed with the standard of the students taking part in the challenge and I look forward to working with them in the future. Huge congratulations to the winners and everyone else who took part. It’s important that we continue to support up and coming students and the Great Farm Challenge is an excellent way to do so.
Una McBride, Agricultural Advisor at Severn Trent, said:
We’re delighted to have been part of the Great Farm Challenge for the past eight years. It’s a great way for us to engage directly with the farmers of the future, raising their awareness of the whole water journey, from farm to tap and, the opportunities for farming businesses to thrive whilst protecting our water environment. It’s really encouraging to see so many of our future farmers so enthused about incorporating good water quality practices in to their own farming systems.
Clare Bullen, Strategy Development Manager at United Utilities, said:
We’re delighted to be involved in this challenge as it is a great way to influence the next generation of farmers about how they can help us to care for the environment without impacting on their farm business.
By creating the awareness of good water quality practices we will hopefully avoid problems in the future which could lead to increased water treatment costs and potentially affect the bill paying customer.
A 24 year-old man has been ordered to pay nearly £5,000 after being found guilty of transporting controlled waste without a waste carriers licence.
On 27 February 2019, at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, Gyula Ruszo was fined £1,760, ordered to pay Environment Agency Costs of £2,995 as well as a victim surcharge of £170.
Mr Ruszo, of Kennington Road Nottingham, was caught transporting controlled waste without a licence during Operation Transporter, a multi-agency road stop on the A612 at Burton Joyce, Nottinghamshire. Police directed him to pull in at the layby checkpoint where his vehicle was examined and Mr Ruszo was interviewed by an Environment Agency officer.
The vehicle was seized by police as it was found to be un-roadworthy, had no MOT and the driver Mr Ruszo had no insurance. The van was carrying various items of scrap metal including a copper hot water tank, lengths of copper piping, a washing machine, lead flashing and a metal lawn mower.
Anyone transporting waste as part of their normal business, whether it is their waste or someone else’s, has to have a Waste Carriers Licence.
This was the second hearing of the case after Mr Ruszo failed to turn up to the first hearing in January 2019. The case was rearranged for 27 February 2019, but Mr Ruszo again failed to attend and the case was heard in his absence.
Speaking after the case, Waste Regulatory Specialist Iain Regan, who is lead for Operation Transporter in the Environment Agency said:
This is an excellent result for the Environment Agency, which we are pleased to share with our professional partners; the Police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency who we work closely with on Op Transporter.
This case makes it clear to anyone who may be in any doubt about the need to register for a licence to carry waste that if you transport waste in Nottinghamshire you may be stopped and your waste carrier registration checked. The penalties for failing to have a waste carriers licence can be significant and it is not worth the risk. Registration can be applied for easily on-line, or by phone.
We want householders and businesses to only use licensed waste carriers which offers greater assurance that any waste will be properly and legally managed. We hope that cases such as this one show legitimate waste carriers that we are taking action against the rogue traders and free riders.
A skip hire company owner who was duped by a rogue waste collector has been ordered to pay nearly £25,000
Owner/operator Robert Walker of Bob’s Skips in Basildon, Essex, failed to check the legitimacy of a haulier who claimed to be working for a genuine haulage company. The driver did not work for the company and was using fake waste transfer notices. The waste was later found fly-tipped at 4 different locations in Essex.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard today that the rogue trader had made a cold call to Walker’s company looking for something to fill his lorry for a return journey.
Mrs Sarah Dunne, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told magistrates that Walker, 54, of Whitmore Way, Basildon, arranged 4 of these deliveries.
She told the court that Walker had asked for waste transfer notices but made no further enquiries about the legitimacy of the company and failed to notice the forms were not filled in properly.
He also had no idea where the waste was being taken nor did he check that it had arrived at its destination - all part of his duty of care. Due to the inaccurate nature of the paperwork, it was not possible to trace the lorry or the driver.
Mrs Dunne said Walker had been reckless and breached the duty of care he had when managing waste.
This unlawful waste disposal could have been prevented if the code of practice had been followed.
By breaching his duty of care, he avoided the costs and taxes involved in sending waste to a permitted site.
After the hearing, Environment Agency officer Tom Pickover said:
We hope this sends out a clear message to waste operators that they cannot take a cavalier approach to its disposal.
The duty of care rules are there to protect the environment and legitimate traders who want to do a good job of disposing of waste properly.
Walker was fined £10,000, ordered to pay £8,300 towards the costs of the clean-up of the fly-tipped rubbish and £6,532 in costs. There was also a £30 victim surcharge.
A 35-year-old man from Bradford has been ordered to pay £3,116.80 after pleading guilty to operating as an illegal waste carrier in a case heard at Nottingham Magistrates Court.
Caught in road-stop stingAndrew Clarke of Southcroft Avenue, Birkenshaw, Bradford, was stopped at a multi-agency road stop operation on the A614 at Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, on 25 May 2018. A search of his transit van revealed he was carrying waste carpet.
Environment Agency officers then carried out a check on the public register, which showed the defendant did not have the required waste carrier registration. He was given 10 days to obtain the necessary paperwork or face prosecution.
Failed to registerHowever, a subsequent systems check by Environment Agency officials in August 2018 showed the defendant had failed to register as a waste carrier in his name within the 10-day period. He had registered in the name of a partnership 20 days after the offence.
The case was heard at Nottingham Magistrates on 2 January 2019. He was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £2,816.80.
Penalties over £3,000The defendant, who had been fitting out a shop in Arnold, Nottingham, told officials that he was not being paid to remove the waste and that he was not aware he needed to be registered.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said:
This case demonstrates how seriously we take illegal waste crime. We take robust enforcement action against those who deliberately ignore the law to protect communities and the environment.
Every year, the regulator publishes its Regulating for People, the Environment and Growth (RPEG) report which sets out the regulatory performance of businesses holding environmental permits in England and the effectiveness of the EA’s regulatory approach.
The report shows that 93% of the 14,000 businesses the EA regulates demonstrated good compliance with their environmental permit conditions. Businesses which harmed the environment, however faced record penalties. A total of £25.5 million in fines were issued by the courts for environmental offences brought by the Agency compared to £8 million last year.
Waste crime continues to blight communities, cause environmental harm, and undercut legitimate business. The Environment Agency is closing more than two illegal waste sites every day but discovering a similar number of new illegal sites. The report acknowledges waste crime is becoming more organised and that more needs to be done. This will be addressed in the government’s forthcoming organised waste crime review, which has examined how the Environment Agency, partners, and the law enforcement system can best tackle the problem.
The report also highlights the increased use of Enforcement Undertakings for less serious environmental incidents. In 2017/18 there were a record £2.2 million worth of Enforcement Undertakings accepted by the Agency. By companies admitting liability and making a financial contribution to put right the harm they have caused, both the environment and communities benefit.
Other key findings include:
Harvey Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Environment Agency, said:
Our regulation is supporting a healthier environment and safer communities – serious pollution incidents fell by 18%. We closed down over 800 illegal waste sites, and the courts have imposed record levels of fines on companies for environmental offences.
We are committed to supporting businesses to innovate and grow, in return, we expect that businesses take their responsibilities to protecting the environment seriously.
Huntingdon man ran two illegal waste tyre sites in Cambridgeshire, both of which he abandoned.
On Tuesday 09 October 2018 Michael Newsome was sentenced to a total of 8 months imprisonment (4 months consecutive for each offence) suspended for 24 months. Newsome was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work for the benefit of the community, ordered to pay a total of £12,131.90 in compensation to the landowners where he abandoned tyres and a contribution of £1,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaking the law in Peterborough and Whittlesey.
Peterborough Magistrates heard that Newsome, aged 28, of Overwater Close, Stukeley Meadows, Huntingdon, traded as Cambridgeshire Rubber Recycling Ltd and even advertised on Facebook as being licensed.
First he set up in Peterborough having registered an exemption that allowed him a limited number of tyres on site to be stored under set conditions for safety.
Mr Gurjit Bdesha, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that Newsome leased the Dickens Street site from an 82-year-old man to shred tyres, which he failed to do. Instead, he took well in excess of the number of tyres allowed under the exemption and stored them in a way that had no fire breaks.
Mr Bdesha said:
"This was especially important as the site is in the middle of a residential area with the nearest home being 13 metres away. Tyres can combust and fire can easily spread".
Despite being asked to move the tyres, Newsome made no effort to clear the site and the landlord ejected him. He later broke into a lockaway on site, damaging the door, to take back equipment belonging to him. He left behind 87 tonnes of tyres (9,050) costing the landlord £8,121.
After being evicted Newsome took on a site at Lazy Acre Farm, Whittlesey and carried on business, failing to even register an exemption.
The landlord became worried at the number of tyres on site with no equipment to process them and asked him to leave.
Mr Bdesha continued:
"The landlord was so desperate for Newsome to leave the site and clear the tyres that he was prepared to waive rent arrears of £3,500 if he removed them. The tyres were left there".
At that site Newsome abandoned 117 tonnes of tyres (14,040).
Mr Bdesha told the court that the site was listed as a High Risk Fire site as the tyres were stored within 70 metres of the mainline railway from Birmingham to Stansted Airport. If there had been a fire due to arson or self-combustion then the impact could have resulted in the closure of the railway and caused significant disruption to the national railway transport network.
He said there had been 2 failed attempts to arrest Newsome, 2 failed attempts to get him to voluntarily attend interview with Environment Agency investigators and since then no communication from him.
After the hearing Enforcement Team Leader Phil Henderson said:
"We require operators have an approved fire prevention plan in place before a permit is issued. The Environment Agency seeks to work with operators to ensure compliance with the relevant environmental regulations".
"However, as in this case, where those operators fail to take this advice we are compelled to take action, particularly in cases where the storage of waste may risk local residents or our transport infrastructure."’
Newsome pleaded guilty to:
On or before 3 November 2015 on land known as 61 Dickens Street, Peterborough, PE1 5ER, you operated a regulated facility, namely a tyre treatment and disposal facility, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 12 of the Environmental Permitted (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Contrary to Regulation 12 and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.
Between 1 December 2015 and 31 December 2016 on land known as Lazy Acre Farm, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 1GR, you operated a regulated facility, namely a tyre treatment and disposal facility, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 12 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Contrary to Regulation 12 and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.
Two Barnsley men have been handed suspended prison sentences and ordered to pay back cash after an Environment Agency investigation.
Two men have been handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds of money they illegally earned after a proceeds of crime hearing at Sheffield Crown Court on Tuesday 9 October.
Andrew Lawrence Green, 54, from Shafton, Barnsley, and Dean Ryder, 54, of Top Fold, Doncaster, were also given a Community Order with an unpaid work requirement of 200 hours following their conviction for three separate offences at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court in December 2014 which were upheld after an appeal hearing at Sheffield Crown Court in March 2016.
The defendants were back at Sheffield Crown Court again on Tuesday 9 October, in a case brought by the Environment Agency under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following a financial investigation into the lawful costs they avoided from their crimes.
It followed a multi-day trial in the Magistrates’ Court which concluded in December 2016, a two day Crown Court appeal which concluded in March 2016, a Judicial Review hearing which took place in December 2016 and confiscation proceedings that took place in 2017 which concluded on Tuesday.
During the Magistrates trial and Crown Court appeal, the court heard how Green and Ryder’s company, Grantscope Ltd, which went into liquidation on 12 September 2012, failed to comply with a Regulation 36 enforcement notice served by the Environment Agency in February 2012 after the illegal deposit of waste outside of its Goodwin’s Yard site in Barnsley.
Continued to operate in contravention of law
The company’s environmental permit, which is a necessary requirement for the operation of a waste facility and sets out the conditions by which a company must comply in order to protect health and the environment, was subsequently revoked, effectively ending its ability to operate at the site. Despite this, the defendants, who jointly owned Goodwin’s Yard, continued waste operations in contravention of the law including processing waste into trommel fines which were then bagged up to be sold as topsoil.
The court also heard that the defendants accumulated a waste pile of nearly 13,000 tonnes before abandoning the waste.
Prior to the proceeds of crime case, the defendants were found guilty of the separate offences of depositing waste outside a permitted area in December 2011; operating a regulated facility without a permit between 20 November 2012 and May 2013; and failing to comply with steps 2-7 of a regulation 36 notice dated 7 February 2012.
Mr Recorder Preston remarked whilst sentencing that the he found the offending was, “Deliberate, flagrant and persistent by you both” and that he only suspended the sentence given the length of the proceedings, their ages and for the sake of their families.
Green and Ryder’s criminal benefit from operating a regulated facility without a permit was found to be £276,000 in equal share. Ryder has sufficient assets so must repay £138,002 within three months or face a default prison sentence. Green has assets less than that figure, but must repay £121,422.72 within three months or face a default prison sentence.
Mitigating for Mr Ryder Ms Penchon said: “The age of the offending should be borne in mind. This waste was dumped on a waste transfer site. There has been no environmental harm.” She explained the court process had taken its toll on Mr Ryder.
Mitigating for Mr Green, Mr Copeland explained that skips containing waste had only been deposited unlawfully after a fire at the site. The cause of the fire was arson. There had also been no environmental harm.
Waste crime does not pay
The Environment Agency’s Caron Osborne said:
"Between them, Green and Ryder have been ordered to pay more than £250,000, which is a significant confiscation order that sends out a clear message to others who flout the law that waste crime does not pay".
"Not only do we use environmental law to prosecute those who abuse the environment but we also use the Proceeds of Crime legislation to ensure that criminals are deprived of the benefits of their illegal activity."
"Waste crime undermines legitimate businesses and can have significant detrimental impacts on communities and the environment. In this case, the two men abandoned around 13,000 tonnes of waste material".
"This hearing demonstrates how seriously we take waste crime and we’ll continue to take action against those operating outside of the law and the regulations".
Legislation to deliver a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations after nearly half a century under EU rules is being introduced into Parliament today (12 September).
The Agriculture Bill sets out how farmers and land managers will in future be paid for “public goods”, such as better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding.
This will replace the current subsidy system of Direct Payments, which is ineffective and pays farmers based on the total amount of land farmed. These payments are skewed towards the largest landowners and are not linked to any specific public benefits. The top 10% of recipients currently receive almost 50% of total payments, while the bottom 20% receive just 2%.
In its place, a new Environmental Land Management system will start from next year. The government will work together with farmers to design, develop and trial the new approach. Under the new system, farmers and land managers who provide the greatest environmental benefits will secure the largest rewards, laying the foundations for a Green Brexit.
The Bill will also be underpinned by measures to increase productivity and invest in (R&D).
For example, there will be funding available for farmers to come together to develop and get the research projects that they want and need, whether that be on soil health or sustainable livestock farming . This will lead to practical gains for farmers that help them become more profitable and reduce their environmental footprint.
The government will also be able to make payments during the seven year transition period for famers to invest in new technologies and methods that boost productivity.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
The introduction of the Agriculture Bill is an historic moment as we leave the EU and move towards a brighter future for farming.
After nearly 50 years of being tied to burdensome and outdated EU rules, we have an opportunity to deliver a Green Brexit.
This Bill will allow us to reward farmers who protect our environment, leaving the countryside in a cleaner, greener and healthier state for future generations.
Critically, we will also provide the smooth and gradual transition that farmers and land managers need to plan ahead.
Farmers will be supported over a seven year transition period as we as leave the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
For 2019, Direct Payments will be made on the same basis as now, subject to simplifications where possible. Direct Payments for 2020 will also be made in much the same way as now. Simplifications will be made as soon as possible, subject to the terms of the overall Brexit implementation period. There will then be an agricultural transition period in England between 2021 and 2027 as payments are gradually phased out.
During consultation, there was a widespread support for applying reductions to Direct Payments more widely. All farmers will therefore see some reduction to their payments from the start of the transition, although those who receive the highest payments will see bigger reductions initially. This will free up funds to invest in public goods.
To help new entrants get into the sector and give farmers flexibility to plan for the future, Direct Payments during the agricultural transition period up until 2027 will be “delinked” from the requirement to farm the land.
These payments, which may be calculated according to money received in previous years, can be used by farmers to invest in their business, diversify their activities or else retire from farming and give way for new people to enter.
The Bill also sets out how the government will strengthen transparency in the supply chain to help farmers get a better deal in the marketplace.
By collecting data from across the supply chain, the government will help food producers strengthen their negotiating position at the farm gate and seek a fairer return.
The introduction of the Agriculture Bill now means that all the necessary measures will be in place for the start of the agricultural transition in 2021, delivering a smooth transition to the new domestic policy.
The corac team
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