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Should we care about soil quality?

Soil protection in the UK A wide variety of legislation and guidelines directly and indirectly pertain to the management and protection of soil in UK, but there is no specific legal instrument targeted at the protection of soil. No single organisation is responsible for all the different aspect of soil protection covered by current legislation. • • • • DEFRA has responsibility for overall soil policy in England the Environment Agency for environmental protection in England and Wales Department for Communities and Local Government for planning policy. Scottish Natural Heritage – nature conservation in Scotland

Recent progress on soil policy has been the establishment of a specialist soils unit at Defra and subsequent publication of a Soil Action Plan for England (2004), it commits the Government and partners to 52 actions relating to better soil protection and management across a wide range of activities that impinge on soils including land use planning construction, minerals extraction, agriculture, forestry and heritage conservation. The First Soil Action Plan for England (2004-2006) has provided with a good foundation but there is still much to be done to improve the management of soils to deliver a wide range of benefits to society and to improve the measures we use to achieve this. A draft Soil Strategy for England is currently out for public consultation, to succeed the First Soil Action Plan for England. The draft Soil Strategy for England takes stock of progress under the Action Plan, as well as taking forward emerging priorities for soil protection on maintaining soil carbon and the recycling of organic wastes to land. In 1996 – the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution published its 19th report ‘Sustainable use of soil’ with 91 recommendations on various aspects of soil sustainability. Considerable amount of more general advice on managing soil quality in agrosystems available in the UK, for instance ‘Best farming practices:profiting from a good environment (Environment Agency), ‘A guide to better soil structure’(NSRI 2002), ‘A guide to managing crop establishment’ (NSRI 2002) and ‘Soil Management on Organic Farms’ (Soil Association 2003).
Single Payment Scheme: Cross Compliance Handbook for England - 2006 Edition This handbook briefly explains the cross compliance requirements and standards for England which started in 2005, and the process for inspection and enforcement of cross compliance. With reference to soils, the 2006 edition of the Handbook has been updated to include detail

on the Soil Protection Review and minor changes to GAEC standards on waterlogged soil and the management of land not in agricultural production Single Payment Scheme: Cross Compliance Guidance for Soil Management - 2006 Edition Guidance for farmers and land managers to help them meet GAEC soils conditions under cross compliance. It will help them manage their soils to improve their agricultural potential, while at the same time reducing the scope for negative impacts on the environment. The 2006 edition has been updated to take on board stakeholder feedback, and includes new sections on managing soils not in agricultural production and managing soils under set-aside. Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Soil (The Soil Code), revised 1998 A set of practices to help farmers and growers avoid causing long term damage to the soils which they farm, and to enhance their ability to support plant growth. Rural Development Service Technical Advice Note: Soil texture, 2006 A technical advice note explaining how to determine the texture of your soil.

List of legislative papers:
o The First Soil Action Plan for England: 2004-2006

o Single Payment Scheme: Cross Compliance Handbook for England o Single Payment Scheme: Cross Compliance Guidance for Soil Management o Single Payment Scheme: Cross Compliance Soil Protection Review o Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Nineteenth Report: Sustainable Use of Soil o Sustainable Use of Soil: Government Response to the Nineteenth Report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution o Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Soil (The Soil Code) o o Rural Development Service Technical Advice Note: Soil texture Controlling soil erosion advice

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UK Acts . Environmental Protection Act 1990 . Town and Country Planning Act (Scotland)1997 . Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991 . Radioactive Substances Act 1993 . Environment Act 1995 . Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 . Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Act 1999 UK Statutory Instruments Protection of Water against Agricultural Nitrate Pollution (Scotland) Regulations 1996 . Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations 1989 (as amended) . Groundwater Regulations 1998

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. Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994 . Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 . The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations 1994 . Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 . Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1989 . The Environmental Protection (Prescribed Processes and Substances) Regulations 1991

o . Urban Waste Water Treatment (Scotland) Regulations 1994 o . Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000 o . Contaminated Land (England) Regulations (2006)

References:
Soil: Publication http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/land/soil/information/publications.htm#spsprotreview Soil Quality Report http://www.sepa.org.uk/land/idoc.ashx?docid=eff422c0-7bc8-4b68-9f41-699f8064d9dd&version=-1 Post Note, Uk Soil Degradation http://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn265.pdf