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  • by Karma Loveday

Campaigners win right to take the EA to court over sludge-to-land contaminant testing

Environmental campaign group Fighting Dirty has been granted permission for a High Court hearing to challenge the Environment Agency (EA) over its decision to axe a commitment to have sewage sludge tested for microplastics and forever chemicals before it is spread on agricultural land as fertiliser.


Law firm Leigh Day, which is acting for Fighting Dirty, said the EA committed in 2020 to bring the testing and regulation of sewage sludge from water treatment plants and septic tanks into the Environmental Permitting Regime by 2023. This would have required it to be tested for microplastics and forever chemicals before being sold to farmers by water companies.


However, Leigh Day said that in updating its safe sludge strategy, the Agency abandoned the commitment to legislative change: “Now there is no timetable in place to enforce the removal of harmful chemicals from the 3.5m tonnes of sludge that is spread on UK agricultural land as fertiliser every year.”


Fighting Dirty has been granted permission for judicial review of the EA’s decision to remove the deadline for action and will argue in court that the watchdog failed to consider mandatory relevant factors and to make sufficient inquiries, and that its decision not to replace the target date is irrational.


Fighting Dirty comprises campaigners Georgia Elliott-Smith, George Monbiot and Steve  Hynd. The judicial review hearing has been listed to be heard on 9 July at the Royal Courts of Justice.

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