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Volume 116: debated on Wednesday 13 May 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures the Government have taken since 1979 to balance the needs of agriculture and the environment.

[pursuant to his reply, 8 May 1987, c. 565] Since 1979, the Government have taken a very wide range of measures in pursuit of their policy to balance the needs of agriculture and the environment.Among the many initiatives taken by my Ministry, we introduced in 1985 the agricultural improvements scheme which puts particular emphasis on investment in environmentally beneficial works in the countryside.We have also introduced the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, under part III of which the sale, supply and use of pesticides were brought under statutory control by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 and pesticide advertising from 1 January 1987.We have continued to advise and encourage farmers to take reasonable measures to ensure that farm practices do not result in pollution. We have encouraged the adoption of strengthened model byelaws on straw and stubble burning, issued guidelines on housed livestock and the control of odour, and given further publicity to the code of good agricultural practice.Following the early success with the Broads grazing marshes conservation scheme, I persuaded my European colleagues to support the new concept of environmentally sensitive areas under which farmers are encouraged to pursue farming practices which protect and enhance the conservation value of their land. In addition to the five areas already designated in England, I intend to announce further designations shortly. In collaboration with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, I launched the farm and countryside initiative in February 1986, through which the community programme of the Manpower Services Commission is used to provide work for long-term unemployed people on task of benefit to the rural environment.