Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 14-07-21

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on Jul 14, 2021
  • Articles

Another damp week when all we can do is look at our crops across farm gates. Fortunately, they remain upright but desperately need sunshine.

The jobs are stacking up as haymaking is delayed, and with the harvest just round the corner, it will be all hands-on deck once the weather improves.

The season for ploughing match society judging of crops and livestock is upon us. The judges come onto farms to inspect crops, livestock and whole farm management.  Our winter barley hit the jack pot – congratulations to John!

The national papers and farming press are awash with depressing stories of on-farm accidents and fatalities. Thirty-four farm workers lost their lives in agricultural incidents from April 2020 to March 2021. This a shocking 70 per cent increase of farm deaths to the previous year, which was the lowest for some while.

Fatal accidents range from tractor and machinery related incidents, cases involving livestock, falling bales and workers becoming overwhelmed by fumes from sceptic tanks and slurry lagoons.

Farm Health and Safety issues must be regularly reviewed; it is too easy to be complacent. The most valuable resource on our farms is not the shiny red MF tractors or Class combines, it is the people who operate them - our wonderful, loyal, and hardworking staff who are indispensable.

Southern Water has been fined a record £90 million after pleading guilty to thousands of illegal discharges of sewage polluting rivers and coastal waters in Sussex, Kent, and Hampshire.

Major harm has been caused to protected areas, conservation sites and oyster beds.

This case is the largest criminal investigation in the Environment Agency’s 25 – year history. The Hon Mr Justice Johnson said when giving his sentence: Each of the 51 offences (including over 6,000 incidents) in isolation shows shocking and wholesale disregard for the environment, for the precious and delicate ecosystems along the North Kent and Solent coastlines, for human health, and for fisheries and other legitimate businesses that depend on the vitality of the coastal waters, over many years.

Southern Water deliberately presented a misleading picture of compliance to the Environment Agency, hindering proper regulation of the company.

None of this was unexpected. It has been known for years that Southern Water have been discharging raw sewage into our rivers and along the coast. The only surprise is that the Environment Agency has at last caught up with them and done something about it.

When one considers the high standards, and enormous costs which farmers take on to comply with environmental rules and regulations, I believe some have a right to feel aggrieved. We push the boundaries to ensure our livestock and agricultural activities do not contaminate water courses.

Despite our efforts, the spotlight is constantly shone on our industry as we are blamed for polluted rivers and streams. Perhaps now the focus of attention should be turned elsewhere.

This case is not the end of the matter. Sewage treatment works across the southeast are inadequate and incapable of dealing with the raw sewage created by the current and increasing population.

Despite attempts to ‘upgrade’ facilities, these treatment works will never keep up with planned and ongoing housing developments.

Both government and councils must consider the infrastructure before overwhelming the southeast with more housing. It was not so long ago we faced a water shortage – remember plans to pipe water from Wales?

Not only are there issues about water, fresh and foul, but our hospitals, schools and roads are already overwhelmed with the existing population. Should we really allow things to get worse?

The intrepid Rawhides completed their 800-mile bike ride. So far, they have raised more than £150,000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and The Institute for Cancer Research, in memory of three-year-old Artemis Alice Wood. @fundraising4artemis

Congratulation to Gareth Southgate and his England team for reaching the final of the Euros and raising the nations spirits.

To read Carola’s columns in full, go to: