New basic rules for farmers to tackle diffuse water pollution from agriculture in England

Closed 24 Nov 2015

Opened 30 Sep 2015

Results updated 18 Feb 2016

Between 30 September and 24 November 2015 we consulted on the introduction of a small number of new basic rules for farmers through legislation. The aim was to improve the efficiency of farms and to help reduce water pollution from agriculture, with a focus on phosphorus.

We are grateful for the considerable level of interest in these proposals and are currently reviewing the responses. We aim to publish a summary of responses and the Government response by the summer.


The Government’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and improving the environment is delivered through a range of tools, initiatives and best practice. These aim to protect and improve the water environment and support competitive agriculture.

We need a combination of different actions to tackle agricultural diffuse pollution of water effectively.  Some action will happen as a result of advice and incentives such as through the new Countryside Stewardship scheme, or through industry-led or water company action. Other actions will result from regulation or through innovation.

This consultation is of direct interest to farmers, farm advisers and contractors, and is of interest to environmental organisations and water and sewerage companies.

We are seeking your views on the introduction of a small number of new basic rules for farmers through legislation which will improve the efficiency of farms and help to reduce water pollution from agriculture, with a focus on phosphorus. These rules are intended to be clear and simple, and will be supported by advice.  They would not be part of cross-compliance.

We welcome your views on these proposals.   As well as considering which basic rules should apply, we would also welcome comments on how to implement them. An explanatory note sets out how remote sensing might help to support cost effective monitoring in the future.

This consultation will help us to develop the best way forward and will inform the decision by Government. If the proposals are taken forward our aim would be to introduce legislation during 2016/17.


  • Charities/Voluntary Organisations
  • Environmental campaigners
  • Food Business Operators
  • Food Industry
  • National Park Authorities
  • Water/water Industry sector
  • Local Authorities
  • Farmers
  • SME businesses
  • Tenant Farmers
  • Agricultural Landlords
  • Agricultural Valuers
  • Land Agents


  • Natural environment
  • Sustainable development
  • Water quality
  • Bathing waters
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Dairy industry
  • Cattle
  • Pigs
  • Poultry
  • Sheep and goats
  • Farm management
  • Land management
  • Soil