Environmental controls, Legislation, Local Impacts, Permitting, Pollution prevention & control, Surface Impacts, Waste storage, Well integrity

“Dear Aunty, is this farmer right to be concerned about water pollution from spills?”


Gosh, dears, yes he absolutely is.

Not from shale gas extraction though, poppets, but from local dairy farming activities.

The UK agricultural sector as a whole is responsible for a significant number of serious water pollution events every year. In fact, in 2012, 16% of all serious water pollution incidents investigated by the Environment Agency were in the agricultural sector.

These are often a result of over-application of fertilisers (which then runs off into watercourses when it rains); spills of slurry entering watercourses; and, in the dairy sector, spills of milk.

According to guidance prepared by DEFRA for dairy farmers, cattle slurry is highly polluting in the water environment. It has what is known as high Biological Oxygen Demand or BOD. Spilled in a watercourse, organic-rich materials like this act as a food source for microorganisms. As these feed, dears, their populations grow exponentially to the point at which they become such large colonies that they consume all of the available oxygen in the water around them to the extent that it becomes anaerobic: the result is that creatures that rely on oxygen cannot survive, and we see significant fish kills.

From this chart, it’s possible to see that the majority of those incidents are from dairy farming.

So, if genuinely concerned about local water pollution and his herd coming into contact with such pollutants, Mr Pemberton’s first concern should be to ensure that he continues to operate in accordance with Government guidance in order to avoid harmful spills on his own farm.

Until next time dears xxx



One thought on ““Dear Aunty, is this farmer right to be concerned about water pollution from spills?”

  1. Johnny Twosheds says:

    Hi Aunty….just wondering if you have any comparable statistics for drilling fluid/fracking fluid spills…. just to help me make my mind up you understand.

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