ABSTRACT

The extension of the regulatory framework from the 1950s onwards to embrace farm pollution proceeded hand in hand with the developing recognition of the problem. The discharge of any effluents into watercourses has always been covered by common law, particularly in regard to the rights of downstream riparian owners. Given the traditionally indulgent treatment of farmers, agricultural leaders became alarmed as pollution became a public issue in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Advisory Council’s deliberations on farm pollution coincided with the passage of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. In 1977 the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution launched an investigation of agriculture and pollution, which emerged as its seventh report in 1979. The Control of Pollution Act 1974 had left the objectives of farm pollution control ambiguous. Thus, throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, agricultural pollution as an issue was very much under the control of the agricultural community.