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Farmers in Jersey could face pesticide tax

Farmers in Jersey could face a tax on fertilisers and pesticides as part of a plan to make the island's water safer.

Credit: ITV News

At the moment, levels of cancer-causing nitrates in untreated water supplies are among the highest in Europe.

The States have today released a five year plan to improve the situation - saying it wants ensure water remains healthy in the future.

The Water Management plan aims to tackle high levels of nitrates, phosphates and pesticides.

The report suggests this will be done with increased regulation and better monitoring.

It also proposes an extra tax for anyone who uses fertiliser and pesticide products.

The changes are expected to cost half a million pounds over the next five years.

But island farmers, Jersey Water and the Department of the Environment say they are working together to improve Jersey’s water quality for 2017.

The Nitrate Working Group, which previously lobbied for cleaner water, has evolved into the ‘Action for Cleaner Water Group’.

I am greatly encouraged by the proactive work of the farming industry to address these long-standing island water quality issues. We will continue to work together and I will monitor progress through the joint Action for Cleaner water Group.

– Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce

Test results earlier this year showed higher than expected levels of pesticide in ground and surface water. Many of these were recorded during the potato season.

As a result, island farmers commissioned a UK firm to review how pesticides are used in Jersey.

They are now working together to implement the findings of the report.

Recommendations for potato growers around Jersey include:

  • replacing certain pesticides with ones which are less likely to leach and run off into streams and groundwater
  • using better accuracy techniques when applying pesticides and fertilisers
  • using fertiliser that is low in phosphate
  • continuing and expanding areas for trials (such as the use for slow release fertiliser and placement of fertiliser in the rows next to the potato).

The Technical Director for the Jersey Royal potato said that farmers are "committed to the environment"

Farmers in the island have constantly changed their growing of the potato to achieve the best quality crop. The latest changes focus on safeguarding the environment and our island water resources. These changes will compliment various trials that are being undertaken to ensure that the environment continues to be safeguarded.

– Mike Renouard, Technical Director for Jersey Royal