A team dedicated to ensuring farms are complying with regulations to reduce agricultural pollution in Wales, is being established by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
The environmental organisation is currently selecting 16 environment officers to carry out inspections at identified farms to help farmers meet the requirements of the Control of Agricultural Pollution (Wales) Regulations (CoAPR).
Successful applicants will start their new roles by the end of the summer and will join two team leaders, who have already started their new positions. Four senior CoAPR environment officers will also join the team.
The establishment of the new NRW team is possible thanks to additional funding from the Welsh Government.
NRW is using available data to identity hot spot areas across Wales to guide the deployment of staff and to assist with prioritisation of inspections.
These officers will undertake CoAPR compliance inspections on sites carrying out higher risk activities on agricultural holdings.
Nichola Salter, Lead Specialist Advisor of Agricultural Regulations, of NRW, said:
“NRW’s role is to ensure compliance with the regulations in a proportionate manner. This means wherever possible, depending on the severity of non-compliance and environmental impact, we will provide direction to sources of technical advice and guidance. Implementing this guidance allows farmers to take timely actions to come back into compliance, enabling them to avoid further enforcement sanctions.
“Being able to establish new teams to carry out a targeted programme of compliance inspections for high risk agricultural activities is a massive step forward in our ability to reducing agricultural pollution in Wales by obtaining compliance with the requirements of the regulations.
“High risk activities, which are controlled under CoAPR, include those farms producing high levels of livestock manures, or importing organic manures which includes digestate, biosolids and other wastes recovered to land.
“However, we recognise the many pressures that farmers are experiencing at this time and the potential they have to affect their mental health and wellbeing. We also appreciate the potential that compliance inspections could have to exacerbate these pressures.
“We can assure farmers that we will always provide reasonable notice ahead of any planned compliance inspections stating what officers will want to inspect.”