British farmers have lost their appeal in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against restrictions on nitrate use. The restrictions, imposed by the English High Court in 1996, were designed to reduce nitrate pollution in several areas of East Anglia classed as “nitrate vulnerable zones”. The farmers contested that they were not the only source of nitrate pollution, which the court rejected on the basis that they were a highly significant contributor. Claims that enforced reductions of fertiliser use were an infringement of private property rights were also rejected.

YEAR 2000 assessment – a review framework, has been launched by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), advising all businesses to adopt an effective Y2K strategy. Clive Norris, head of safety policy at HSE, said: “If you could have a problem, you must carry out an adequate risk assessment. If inspectors find the inadequate attention has been given to assessing or controlling the risks, they will act. There will be legal penalties for not complying with an improvement notice by a given date.” The leaflet is the sixth publication produced by the HSE with regard to Y2K.

Teams from Severn Trent Water, South West Water and last year’s winners Southern Water will be competing in this year’s National Confined Spaces Working Competition at ET ’99 in Birmingham. The challenge will include tests on safety procedures, rescues in tunnels, a reactive ‘race against time’ and a confined spaces quiz. Competition coordinator John Anderson, of the WTI Training Group, said: “Members of the public may not understand the skills needed to assess and maintain underground pipes and sewers to such high standards, but the visual impact of the competition will certainly bring this expertise to life.” If you wish to enter a team, please contact Mr Anderson on (Tel) 0468 440172. To attend ET ’99, (Tel) 01203 426435 or pre-register at

The latest developments in membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology will be presented at the 2nd MBR event at Cranfield University, on June 2. Leading researcher Dr Keith Brindle has booked experts from around the world, including the USA, Australia and Europe, to describe their work and examine the market potential of MBR technology in wastewater treatment. To register contact Lesley Roff on (Tel) 01234 754176, email [email protected] or visit

Ramblers may soon be allowed increased access to water company land, following the publication of a revised version of the Code of Practice on Conservation, Access and Recreation (1989). Environment minister Michael Meachersaid: “The issues raised in this document are of great importance to many people, including all those who use water company land for recreation.” A copy of the consultation document is available from Sandra Rennie at the DETR on (Tel) 0171 890 5361. Any objections to the revised code must be submitted by June 4.

The conditions of an ongoing bulk water transfer from Mid Kent Water to Folkestone & Dover Water have been set by Ofwat, the first case where the authority has been asked by water companies to formally determine the terms and conditions of such a transfer agreement. The 2Ml/d supply is from Mid-Kent’s Kingston chalk aquifer, and according to Folkestone & Dover’s managing director Peter Darby: “Although relatively small, is important in such a dry region of the country. The price we were paying for the water was set a long time ago, and Mid-Kent wanted the price to be more in line with today’s costs. We are certainly content with the price set by Ofwat.” Folkestone will now pay £300,000 per year and 2p/m3 for the supply, plus inflation.

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