Minister questioned over nitrate levels in UK rivers

10 October 2018

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee will ask the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about the UK's implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive.


Wednesday 10 October in Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster
At 11.00am

  • George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Nitrogen is a vital nutrient that helps plants and crops grow, but high concentrations are harmful to people and nature. Excess nitrogen from agricultural sources is one of the main causes of water pollution in Europe.

Council Directive 91/676/EEC (the Nitrates Directive) aims to improve water quality by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters and by promoting the use of good farming practices.

In May 2018, the European Commission published a report on how well Member States have been implementing the Directive. This Ministerial session forms part of the Committee’s scrutiny of that Report.

Likely areas of discussion

  • Concerns raised by the European Commission over the UK’s implementation of the Directive.
  • What can be done to stop nitrate levels in water increasing (around a quarter of monitoring stations in England reported increases in the last reporting period).
  • What forecasts the Government has made of future trends in nitrate levels.
  • The impact of current nitrate levels on human health, fish stocks, and water treatment costs.
  • Whether measures currently in place are stringent enough to reduce pollution from nitrates.

Further information

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