Lower nitrate top priority for UK water quality

Environment minister pledges to cut nitrate, diffuse pollution, from agriculture

UK environment and agriculture minister Margaret Beckett today announced a series of steps to improve water quality in England by tackling more closely the impact of agriculture on the environment. An extension of nitrate vulnerable zones was decided, following a European court of justice condemnation of the UK for failure to fully implement the 1991 EU nitrates directive (EED 07/12/00).

The UK government has now designated around 55% of England's land as nitrate vulnerable, stepping back from an earlier indication that it would cover at least 80% (EED 20/12/01). The Anglo-Welsh environment agency, which had called for 100% designation, said it was "disappointed with the government's decision".

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