Press Notice




Good agricultural practice must be promoted to reduce undesirable environmental impacts as well as to deliver environmental benefits but new approaches are needed, according to a House of Lords report published today.

The Earl of Selborne FRS, Chairman of the inquiry said:

"Farmers are inundated with regulations and advice from many different sources. The burden of paperwork threatens to overwhelm smaller businesses.

"Government and its agencies need to work more closely together to help farmers meet environmental goals. The key to this is a 'whole-farm approach'.

"We welcome the fact that DEFRA has set up a Farm Focus Division, but  this must be better resourced with a presence in all regions. We were particularly disappointed to hear it would take 10 years to achieve proper integration of data systems. This is unacceptable."

The Committee recommends:

  • A risk-based approach which relies more on self-regulation and less on formal regulation by enforcement agencies;

  • A true partnership between regulators and regulated to ensure that workable and effective environmental regulations, with known cost implications, are developed well in advance of implementation dates;

  • The new approach should be built around whole-farm planning and environmental management systems;

  • The Government should support the transition to new regulatory regimes with co-ordinated advice, training, IT systems and infrastructure provision;

  • Unnecessary barriers to information exchange (such as the Environment Agency's inability to access IACS data) must be removed.


1. Of more than 50 items of forthcoming environmental legislation at various stages in the pipeline, some two-fifths will impact on agricultural activity in one way or another.

2. In addition there are major impacts, not all of them fully quantified, from EU Directives, in particular the Waste Framework, Nitrates, Water Framework, and Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directives.

3. The report is published by the Stationery Office: Environmental Regulation and Agriculture, House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, 36th Report, Session 2001-02, HL Paper 186, ISBN 0 10 400107 0, £20.50. The full text of the report will be available on the internet via after publication.

4. The inquiry was carried out by the EU Sub-Committee D (Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Consumer Protection) whose membership was:

Baroness Billingham

Lord Christopher

Lord Crickhowell

Lord Dubs

Lord Fyfe of Fairfield

Baroness Maddock

Countess of  Mar

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Lord Palmer

Earl of Selborne (Chairman)

Lord Walpole

Further information and strictly embargoed copies of the report from:

Tom Radice

- Clerk to the Committee, on 020 7219 6084

Jillian Bailey

- Press and Publicity Officer (Committees), on 020 7219 8659