France Voynet proposes eco tax on pesticides and fertilizers

French Environment Minister, Dominique Voynet plans to institute a new 'eco tax' on fertilisers and pesticides, as part of a programme to apply the 'polluter pays' principle to the agricultural sector.

A working group has been appointed and instructed to study the feasibility of the new ‘eco tax’ on fertilisers and pesticides, and report back before the end of the year.

Speaking at a meeting on 2 November, Voynet said she saw the application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle to agricultural pollution as a priority area.

There has been some undeniable progress, but “48% of water courses still fall short of quality targets. The National Environment Institute has just sent me a report showing the generalised presence of pesticides in rivers and groundwater. For example, in 1995, Atrazine levels exceeded drinking water standards in the water distributed to five million French people. . . . the quality of small water courses, often in rural areas, is not improving, and in some places it is getting worse.”

In 1999, the Minister also plans to extend the General Law on Polluting Activities (TGAP) to apply to the water sector, notably to introduce a tax on works that affect the water system and are likely to increase the risk of flooding.

Also planned for the near future, are an experts committee to help local authorities manage water and sewerage systems, and a strengthening of law enforcement in the water sector, in terms of scope and manpower.

The formation of an environmental police body is also being studied, said Voynet

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