It has been suggested that drones could be utilised by the Environment Agency to monitor and enforce rules on soil runoff and water pollution from farms.
The claims were made in a BBC report which said that a coalition of environmental organisations, including Angling Trust, WWF and the Rivers Trust – with support from the RSPB, had made the proposal in a briefing paper seen by Environmental Secretary Michael Gove.
According to the news story trials in Herefordshire had seen drones work well as part of a surveillance scheme to prevent soil loss from maize and potato fields which, according to the BBC, ‘exhaust soil and make it more likely to be washed away.’ In the trial, drones, guided by contour maps, helped the EA to identify the areas of fields most susceptible to soil erosion.
Mark Lloyd from the Angling Trust, told BBC News: “The rules on protecting soil aren’t being enforced. We need a baseline of regulation to stop bad farmers doing the wrong thing and to stop good farmers looking over the fence and seeing someone else get away with it. The trouble is that the Environment Agency can only respond to major incidents. But soil run-off is diffuse pollution – it comes in hundreds of thousands of trickles, not normally one big incident.”
In 2015 the EA trialled the use of drones to monitor waste sites from the air.
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