Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pollution Measures Can Save Farmers a Fortune; ENVIRONMENT

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pollution Measures Can Save Farmers a Fortune; ENVIRONMENT

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT GIBSON robert.gibson@ncjmedia.co.uk

TAKING steps to prevent river pollution can save farmers a fortune while simultaneously safeguarding wildlife and habitats, according to The Wear Rivers Trust.

The organisation, which works to enhance landscapes and rivers throughout its 1,080sq km catchment area, is urging farmers to review their land management techniques, including the use of fertilisers, and to take steps to ensure chemicals and sediment do not run off into watercourses.

The Wear runs from Wearhead in the North Pennines to the sea at Sunderland, a distance of 97km, the surrounding area including numerous streams, and the major tributaries of the Browney and Gaunless rivers.

As well as reducing harm to river plants and animals there, the Trust says, it makes good business sense to prevent expensive inputs literally running down the drain.

Trustee and farmer, Bob Kirton-Darling, said: "Arable and livestock farming is a major industry in the river's catchment area.

"The industrial heritage of County Durham and Wearside, from coal and lead mining and limestone quarries, is still contributing heavy metal into the watercourse.

"This is a historical problem but the issue of agricultural run-offs is a current one, often masked by water company waste water operations.

"The Trust and others are working with Northumbrian Water through its price review process, which will set its investment priorities for 2015-2020."

Private water sources can be particularly at risk from agricultural runoffs, the organisation says.

This, in turn, can pollute the wider water watercourse, harming fish, water plants, invertebrates, and potentially impacting on tourism.

The knock-on effects could even hinder longer term opportunities for diversified farming businesses, such specialist food producers, as well as holiday cottage and B&B operations.

The Trust therefore recommends a number of steps farmers can take, with good agronomic practices being top of the list. …

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