New environmental regulation plans hit a snag

The European Commission’s plans to impose environmental regulations on a wide range of agricultural activities may face a backlash. A group of MP’s has warned the plans may jeopardise food producers and put at risk an economic recovery.

The Environmental Food and Rural Affairs committee, an influential grouping of MP’s says the plans should be ditched, or at the least be subject to a review. Instead of strict rules for issues like land use the regulations should be more focused on the needs of local communities.

The committee, which reports to the House of Commons, suggests in its current form the rules had the potential to damage the interests of consumers, farmers and the environment. By limiting land use, it was possible the land that was available would be subject to more intense agriculture use, potentially damaging the bio-diversity and ecosystems of the area.

The suggestion by the EU that land use and other regulations should be applied in exactly the same way from Norway to Spain stretched credibility. Chairman Anne McIntosh suggested that the approach from the committee meant their understanding of modern agriculture techniques was limited.

The EU’s main recommendation was that farmers restrict planting in existing grasslands and target 7% of their land as special purpose ecological areas. Ms McIntosh stressed that her committee was fully supportive of the EU’s concern for the environment but questioned whether the new regulations were the right way to achieve results.

The UK already had robust policies in place to protect the environment and enhance the use of land and the new system recommended a tougher and more complex approach. Ironically, the EU rules could end up with the opposite outcome than that intended.