Site in Itchen Stoke going uncultivated as farmer can't afford risk of pollution charges

Land owner Charles Ranald at the site near Alresford which has been standing uncultivated.

Land owner Charles Ranald at the site near Alresford which has been standing uncultivated.

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Winchester Chief Reporter

New green charges may have killed off one of the most historic watercress beds in Hampshire.

Jon Marshall has ceased cultivating the beds at Itchen Stoke, near Alresford, after the Environment Agency set a bill for £3,000 to cover the risk of pollution from his operation.

As a result the beds have not been cultivated this year.

The land is among the last to be farmed in a non-mechanised way, unlike the large beds run by the Watercress Company and Geest.

Directives from the European Union means farmers are looking at costs of around £1,500 to make the beds at Itchen Stoke “compliant”, including creating a settlement pond for filtering water before it’s discharged into the river.

A licence costs £900 and there is an annual fee for a permit to discharge the water of £620.

Environmentalists have expressed concern at the state of Winchester’s rivers as a result of fertilizers within agricultural run-off.

Landowner Charles Ranald said he still hopes other people may be interested in taking over the half-acre plot.

He told the Daily Echo: “It looks like a disaster area. Because of the threat of the charges no-one wants to rent it. I’m heartbroken that it’s like this after 150-200 years.”

“I don’t want to abandon them, they have been going for 150 years. I very much want to carry on. They are a part of Hampshire heritage. The land is too small and very steep banks to have machines so it has to be done in a traditional way.”

In a statement, the Environment Agency said: “We are working with local watercress farms in the River Itchen catchment to reduce the level of nutrients they discharge in order to improve water quality and protect the river, while not being over burdensome on businesses and the rural economy.

“Watercress farms that do not currently have a permit to discharge their waste water to the Itchen will be required to have one, including limits on their use of phosphates. Similarly, in cases where some watercress farms already have a permit we will modify those to introduce limits to their discharge of phosphates.”

The agency was asked to comment on how a tiny operation like that at Itchen Stoke could be harmful but a spokesman did not want to add to the statement.

Speaking to the Daily Echo earlier this year, Mr Marshall said: “Only three of us do it traditionally around here. It’s going to kill the trade. If we do not carry on, you won’t see bunches of watercress anymore, it will all be from massive farms.

“I feel like I’m being squeezed out of business. Big farms can afford this, I can’t.”

Comments (10)

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12:20pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Dai Rear says...

"The agency was asked to comment on how a tiny operation like that at Itchen Stoke could be harmful but a spokesman did not want to add to the statement"
Had it been in France the Agency would have shrugged its shoulders and said "Ca ne fait rien. Continuez M.Ranald."
We are caught in a vice like grip by an inexorable flow of rules from the Berlin-Paris Axis and a monstrous Jobsworth bureaucracy.
"The agency was asked to comment on how a tiny operation like that at Itchen Stoke could be harmful but a spokesman did not want to add to the statement" Had it been in France the Agency would have shrugged its shoulders and said "Ca ne fait rien. Continuez M.Ranald." We are caught in a vice like grip by an inexorable flow of rules from the Berlin-Paris Axis and a monstrous Jobsworth bureaucracy. Dai Rear
  • Score: 0

1:50pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Andy Locks Heath says...

I agree. There has been a long standing joke about the Germans being the ones who "obey orders" without question. In fact it is Britain. No matter how stupid or pernicious or petty it is Britain that is the only country that employs people whose job is to enforce stupid rules without question while the same politicians wringe their hands and complain there is nothing they can do! Spanish fishermen get away with ignoring fishing quotas because Spain doesn't employ Fishery Inspectors or Fishery protection vessels. Britain meanwhile spends a fortune on Fishery Persecution and prosecutes its own fishermen with such vigour while Spanish fishermen (the ones who haven't bought into the British Quota that is) laugh and throw insults across the VHF radio as their competition is led off to port by its very own navy.
I agree. There has been a long standing joke about the Germans being the ones who "obey orders" without question. In fact it is Britain. No matter how stupid or pernicious or petty it is Britain that is the only country that employs people whose job is to enforce stupid rules without question while the same politicians wringe their hands and complain there is nothing they can do! Spanish fishermen get away with ignoring fishing quotas because Spain doesn't employ Fishery Inspectors or Fishery protection vessels. Britain meanwhile spends a fortune on Fishery Persecution and prosecutes its own fishermen with such vigour while Spanish fishermen (the ones who haven't bought into the British Quota that is) laugh and throw insults across the VHF radio as their competition is led off to port by its very own navy. Andy Locks Heath
  • Score: 6

2:48pm Wed 30 Jul 14

forest hump says...

Andy Locks Heath wrote:
I agree. There has been a long standing joke about the Germans being the ones who "obey orders" without question. In fact it is Britain. No matter how stupid or pernicious or petty it is Britain that is the only country that employs people whose job is to enforce stupid rules without question while the same politicians wringe their hands and complain there is nothing they can do! Spanish fishermen get away with ignoring fishing quotas because Spain doesn't employ Fishery Inspectors or Fishery protection vessels. Britain meanwhile spends a fortune on Fishery Persecution and prosecutes its own fishermen with such vigour while Spanish fishermen (the ones who haven't bought into the British Quota that is) laugh and throw insults across the VHF radio as their competition is led off to port by its very own navy.
Britain's obsessive compulsion with EU directives has gone far enough. Westminster et.al. are frightened to upset those in Brussels/Strasbourg as it could be a natural progression step. Scared of losing a potential ticket for the gravy train.
The recent extradition process of the well known terrorist took many years. The Italians would have kicked him out in days. The EU would object but there is absolutely nothing they can do. I admire the Italian attitude versus our cowering compliance.
[quote][p][bold]Andy Locks Heath[/bold] wrote: I agree. There has been a long standing joke about the Germans being the ones who "obey orders" without question. In fact it is Britain. No matter how stupid or pernicious or petty it is Britain that is the only country that employs people whose job is to enforce stupid rules without question while the same politicians wringe their hands and complain there is nothing they can do! Spanish fishermen get away with ignoring fishing quotas because Spain doesn't employ Fishery Inspectors or Fishery protection vessels. Britain meanwhile spends a fortune on Fishery Persecution and prosecutes its own fishermen with such vigour while Spanish fishermen (the ones who haven't bought into the British Quota that is) laugh and throw insults across the VHF radio as their competition is led off to port by its very own navy.[/p][/quote]Britain's obsessive compulsion with EU directives has gone far enough. Westminster et.al. are frightened to upset those in Brussels/Strasbourg as it could be a natural progression step. Scared of losing a potential ticket for the gravy train. The recent extradition process of the well known terrorist took many years. The Italians would have kicked him out in days. The EU would object but there is absolutely nothing they can do. I admire the Italian attitude versus our cowering compliance. forest hump
  • Score: 3

4:09pm Wed 30 Jul 14

spatuluk says...

Bloomin EU, sticking their noses in and trying to protect our waterways and fish stocks.

£3000!!! Alright, so £2400 of that is a one-off fee that ensures the farm doesn't pollute a valuable ecosystem and resource, for roughly the cost of fixing the underground waste pipes of a house, and £640 is only twice what most people pay for waste water disposal in their own homes..

So, the farm now has to abide by the same rules that everyone else lives by? **** you, EU!!
Bloomin EU, sticking their noses in and trying to protect our waterways and fish stocks. £3000!!! Alright, so £2400 of that is a one-off fee that ensures the farm doesn't pollute a valuable ecosystem and resource, for roughly the cost of fixing the underground waste pipes of a house, and £640 is only twice what most people pay for waste water disposal in their own homes.. So, the farm now has to abide by the same rules that everyone else lives by? **** you, EU!! spatuluk
  • Score: 3

4:16pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Dai Rear says...

spatuluk wrote:
Bloomin EU, sticking their noses in and trying to protect our waterways and fish stocks.

£3000!!! Alright, so £2400 of that is a one-off fee that ensures the farm doesn't pollute a valuable ecosystem and resource, for roughly the cost of fixing the underground waste pipes of a house, and £640 is only twice what most people pay for waste water disposal in their own homes..

So, the farm now has to abide by the same rules that everyone else lives by? **** you, EU!!
I'm sorry but "Who's that tw*t in the Jobsworth hat" cannot help but come to mind when anyone reads this.
If you think that Berlin-Paris has "protected our waterways and fish stocks" I fear your hat is too tight and has damaged your brain.
[quote][p][bold]spatuluk[/bold] wrote: Bloomin EU, sticking their noses in and trying to protect our waterways and fish stocks. £3000!!! Alright, so £2400 of that is a one-off fee that ensures the farm doesn't pollute a valuable ecosystem and resource, for roughly the cost of fixing the underground waste pipes of a house, and £640 is only twice what most people pay for waste water disposal in their own homes.. So, the farm now has to abide by the same rules that everyone else lives by? **** you, EU!![/p][/quote]I'm sorry but "Who's that tw*t in the Jobsworth hat" cannot help but come to mind when anyone reads this. If you think that Berlin-Paris has "protected our waterways and fish stocks" I fear your hat is too tight and has damaged your brain. Dai Rear
  • Score: -1

4:49pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Bagamn says...

Considering that the river has been flowing since time immemorial, and watercress was eaten by the Romans, How the blazes can they suddenly start laying down laws that doesn't affect Brussels. I reckon that Brussels take back their sprouts and shove them. I have heard all the rubbish from across the Channel and wait to see what UKIP can do about it.
Considering that the river has been flowing since time immemorial, and watercress was eaten by the Romans, How the blazes can they suddenly start laying down laws that doesn't affect Brussels. I reckon that Brussels take back their sprouts and shove them. I have heard all the rubbish from across the Channel and wait to see what UKIP can do about it. Bagamn
  • Score: -1

5:29am Thu 31 Jul 14

skeptik says...

We have an army of petty minded red tape merchants. Of course leaving the EU would mean they all disappear - like heck. Lived on continental Europe for many years - many ask - why do you Brits interpret so many laws differently to the rest of us - try to explain that we have an army of well paid, perked and pensioned folk living the lives of others for them. 'have ten thousand laws and you lose all respect for the law' - WS Churchill.
We have an army of petty minded red tape merchants. Of course leaving the EU would mean they all disappear - like heck. Lived on continental Europe for many years - many ask - why do you Brits interpret so many laws differently to the rest of us - try to explain that we have an army of well paid, perked and pensioned folk living the lives of others for them. 'have ten thousand laws and you lose all respect for the law' - WS Churchill. skeptik
  • Score: 0

8:53am Thu 31 Jul 14

Dai Rear says...

skeptik wrote:
We have an army of petty minded red tape merchants. Of course leaving the EU would mean they all disappear - like heck. Lived on continental Europe for many years - many ask - why do you Brits interpret so many laws differently to the rest of us - try to explain that we have an army of well paid, perked and pensioned folk living the lives of others for them. 'have ten thousand laws and you lose all respect for the law' - WS Churchill.
Agreed. Whilst it would be lovely not to be under the sway of Paris -Berlin we do excel in this country in just one thing-"compliance". I have no suggestions. In happier times the Compliance Police were all sent to be missionaries, District Officers or Inspectors in Hong Kong Police. What to do with them now? Maybe they could be sent to Moslem lands to give lectures on the joys of "gay marriage"?
[quote][p][bold]skeptik[/bold] wrote: We have an army of petty minded red tape merchants. Of course leaving the EU would mean they all disappear - like heck. Lived on continental Europe for many years - many ask - why do you Brits interpret so many laws differently to the rest of us - try to explain that we have an army of well paid, perked and pensioned folk living the lives of others for them. 'have ten thousand laws and you lose all respect for the law' - WS Churchill.[/p][/quote]Agreed. Whilst it would be lovely not to be under the sway of Paris -Berlin we do excel in this country in just one thing-"compliance". I have no suggestions. In happier times the Compliance Police were all sent to be missionaries, District Officers or Inspectors in Hong Kong Police. What to do with them now? Maybe they could be sent to Moslem lands to give lectures on the joys of "gay marriage"? Dai Rear
  • Score: -1

8:26am Thu 14 Aug 14

mike111 says...

This all looks like Ukip nonsense. A set-up. The beds in the picture appear to have been abandoned for many years. The enforcement of clean up rules are wanted by fishery managers and naturalists. The knee-jerk anti- EU stuff is pathetic.
This all looks like Ukip nonsense. A set-up. The beds in the picture appear to have been abandoned for many years. The enforcement of clean up rules are wanted by fishery managers and naturalists. The knee-jerk anti- EU stuff is pathetic. mike111
  • Score: 0

8:38am Thu 14 Aug 14

Dai Rear says...

mike111 wrote:
This all looks like Ukip nonsense. A set-up. The beds in the picture appear to have been abandoned for many years. The enforcement of clean up rules are wanted by fishery managers and naturalists. The knee-jerk anti- EU stuff is pathetic.
It inspires no pathos in me. The EU is a toxic parasite. Ask any Spaniard under 25. You know it's true, but you're in denial
[quote][p][bold]mike111[/bold] wrote: This all looks like Ukip nonsense. A set-up. The beds in the picture appear to have been abandoned for many years. The enforcement of clean up rules are wanted by fishery managers and naturalists. The knee-jerk anti- EU stuff is pathetic.[/p][/quote]It inspires no pathos in me. The EU is a toxic parasite. Ask any Spaniard under 25. You know it's true, but you're in denial Dai Rear
  • Score: 0

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