The Environmental Audit Committee produced a report on the state of UK Soil Health, in 2016, saying
"the UK lacks an ongoing national-scale monitoring scheme for soil health. Many indicators of soil health change slowly, so it is appropriate to measure only every few years—but successive Governments have neglected to establish a rolling scheme to monitor soil health. We heard that such a scheme could be affordable and would not be overly difficult to establish. We call on the Government to set up such a scheme and to explore whether innovations from Wales, involving alignment and co-funding with EU payments, could be rolled out to the rest of the country".
This was written before Referendum. Here is my talk to Kindling Trust & Food Ethics Council Conference in Manchester in May 2016 on predictions of the consequences of Brexit on Soil and Labour - the two sources of all wealth , according to one Karl Marx.
So shame we wont get any EU funds now.
Government Response says:
"the then Government set out the aim in 2011 of managing soils sustainably and tackling degradation threats by 2030. We stand by that aim. "
They say our soils are being protected through Environmental and Countryside Stewardship schemes, as well Planning to protect good land, restrictions on certain activities, and work through Research Councils to improve soil 'resilience'.
"we now have the opportunity to consider a long-term vision for the environment we want in Britain following the EU referendum vote"
But there is precious little sign of any long term vision.
A couple of specifics:
3. EAC " COP 21 signed up to increase soil carbon levels by 0.4% a year for next 25 years. (this figure is chosen to mitigate all the other emission increasing)." The government responded saying it will continue to investigate ways to increase soil carbon and this will be part of big picture of what we want our environment to look like post Referendum. It says there are limited opportunities under UK conditions to sequester carbon. They look at peat as main option, when they should be looking at arable land and moorland.
7 EAC: "We recommend that the Government develop plans for an ongoing national-scale programme to monitor soil health". Government response "Most soil properties change very slowly over time, so frequent monitoring is not justified and equally there is a substantial cost implication attached to monitoring." No joy there then.
In the past: The 'Soil Survey of England and Wales' was established in 1939 with the aims of mapping, describing and classifying soils of the two countries. Re-named 'Soil Survey' and 'Land Research Centre' and then the National Soils Inventory (NSI) it is now part of Cranfield University
CAP role...Part of Cross Compliance requirements..How will Brexit affect this? Overall UK has been able to comply withPEsticides Directives - like Sustainable use of Pesticides, OK
Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) 1 (Soil Protection Review)
Farming Regulation Task Force February 2012 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ..
"7.46 We recommend that DEFRA changes GAEC 1 to ‘a duty of care’ to protect the soil and to prevent damaging soil erosion, reduce compaction, damage to landscape features and, over the long run, maintain organic matter in mineral soils'. Government Response (not a yes, as they did for 159 of the >200 recommendations) said It is ‘Under consideration’
'We will work with industry to explore the full range of options for the Soil Protection Review (SPR10). We aim to put new arrangements in place by the end of 2013 when the current SPR10 comes to an end. We have already conducted initial analysis to explore how a duty of care for soils could be implemented and believe a duty could be one of several options which could be considered. As part of the review, we will consider how the SPR and other industry schemes can be used in earned recognition. To start the process, we will launch a farmer survey in February 2012 to evaluate the implementation of the SPR10 so far and explore current soil management trends in England.'
Natural England 2015Summary if Evidence - Soils: "enable us to identify areas where the evidence is absent, or complex, conflicting and/or contested. These summaries are for both internal and external use and will be regularly updated as new evidence emerges and more detailed reviews are complete"