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Microplastics

Farmers Weekly: Fighting dirty case against sewage Sludge at High Court

Environmental activists are suing the Environment Agency to enforce proper regulations on sewage sludge spread on farmland.

Fighting Dirty – a campaign group consisting of George Monbiot and Georgia Elliott Smith, as well as Steve Hynd – headed to London’s High Court on Tuesday, 9th July, for the first hearing in a judicial case.

The group was granted permission to contest the Environment Agency (EA) decision to scrap a commitment that sewage sludge would be tested for microplastics, chemicals and other contaminants before being spread as fertilizer on farmland.

See also: Court set date for legal challenge of sewage sludge

The EA reported in 2017 that crops in England were contaminated with harmful organic contaminants such as dioxins, polycyclic hydrocarbons and furans and physical contaminants like plastics. These contaminants pose risks to the health of humans and soil suitability.

In response to this report, the EA has committed to integrating the testing and regulation of sewage sludge into the environmental permit regime by 2023.

Before the sludge can be sold as fertiliser, it must first be tested for microplastics and chemicals.

Fighting Dirty found that the agency abandoned its commitment to bring about legislative changes by 2023 by July 2023.

Fighting Dirty is being represented by Leigh Day’s environmental legal team. They are challenging the EA’s decision. They claim that the EA’s failure to change the regulatory target date is “irrational”.

The campaign has been launched to raise funds for the legal case.

A spokesperson for EA said: “As responsible regulators in England, we are responsible for the supply, treatment and storage of sludge and its use on the land. The purpose of our strategy, therefore, is to ensure that it can be used safely and sustainably.”

This ensures that water companies comply with their environmental obligations while contributing to clean, abundant water and healthy soil.

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