08: Pollution and Legislation

At the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Give examples of legislation and codes of practice that control the storage, handling and disposal of farm waste.
  • Explain the extent of waste management in different husbandry systems.
  • State the farming activities that involve waste management eg spraying, slurry application, fallen stock, waste water, sewage, and food and industrial waste disposal on farm.
  • Explain the importance of keeping accurate and up-to-date records on the amounts and types of waste.

Legislation versus Codes of Practice

What is the difference?


According to the Cambridge Dictionary:

Legislation: ‘a law or set of laws suggested by a government and made official by a parliament’.

Codes of Practice: ‘a set of standards agreed on by a group of people who do a particular job’.

The Main Legislations surrounding Pollution and the Environment

  • The Groundwater Regulations (England and Wales) 2009;
  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990;
  • The Environment Act 1995;
  • The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991;
  • The Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (and amendments 1995);
  • The Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989;
  • The Framework Directive on Waste;
  • The Controlled Waste Regulations 1992.

The Groundwater Regulations (England and Wales) Regulations 2009

This legislation covers the pollution of groundwater by a hazardous substance.

'Groundwater' means all water which is below the surface of the ground in the saturation zone and in direct contact with the ground or subsoil;

It covers 'direct' input which means the introduction of a pollutant into groundwater without percolation through soil or subsoil; and also 'indirect input' which means the introduction of a pollutant into groundwater after percolation through soil or subsoil;

The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations

The Environmental Protection Act 1990

This Act relates to how waste is managed and how emissions into the environment should be controlled.

Part 1 of the Act defines general guidelines which can set limitations on any process which creates emissions.

Previously enforcement of emissions was the responsibility of local authorities and the HM Inspectorate of Pollution. From 1996, the Environment Agency took over.

Part 2 of the Act relates to the licensing and regulation for the suitable disposal of controlled waste on land.

In this context, controlled waste refers to industrial, commercial or household waste and prohibits the unauthorized disposal, treatment or depositing of waste in a prohibited area.

The legislation also places an obligation through a duty of care on manufacturers, carriers, treatment or disposal specialists or those who import products to manage controlled waste to avoid harmful or unauthorised activities when it comes to the disposal of waste.

How do farmers endanger the environment?


The Environment Act 1995

This saw the Establishment of the Environment Agency.

The EA is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

They work to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development.

Environment Agency Website

Natural Resources Wales: Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru

Natural Resources Wales is the largest Welsh Government Sponsored Body - employing 1,900 staff across Wales with a budget of £180 million.

NRW was formed in April 2013, largely taking over the functions of the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and the Environment Agency in Wales, as well as certain Welsh Government functions.

Natural Resources Wales Website

The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991

This imposes a duty of care on any person who imports, produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste or, as a broker, has control of such waste.

The duty requires such persons to ensure that there is no unauthorized or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal of the waste, to prevent the escape of the waste from their control or that of any other person, and on the transfer of the waste to ensure that the transfer is only to an authorized suitably qualified person.

The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991

The Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (and amendments 1995)

These Regulations make provision related to the bringing into force of the waste management licensing system under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and for the purpose of implementing certain Council Directives relating to waste.

Waste permitting Website

The Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989

The Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 makes it a criminal offence for a person who is not a registered carrier to transport controlled waste to or from any place in Great Britain.

It also provides for the seizure and disposal of vehicles used for illegal waste disposal.


The Framework Directive on Waste

The Waste Framework Directive sets out measures addressing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste on the environment and human health, and for improving efficient use of resources which are crucial for the transition to a circular economy.

Directive (EU) 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council

The Controlled Waste Regulations 1992

Controlled waste is waste that is subject to legislative control in either its handling or its disposal.

The types of waste covered includes domestic, commercial and industrial waste.

They are regulated because of their toxicity, their hazardous nature or their capability to do harm to human health or the environment either now or at some time in the future.

A prime concern is the effects of biodegradation or biochemical degradation and the by-products produced.



Pollution and waste can have a very negative effect on the environment.

It is important that there are Laws that prevent people from polluting.

There are agencies that have the responsibility to take polluters on and prosecute them.