Thursday, 21 April 2011

What is the cost of clean waterways for farming communities?

Is it fair for farmers to bear the financial cost of cleaning up rivers for town dwellers to enjoy? According to Relu research, that could be the unintended consequence of implementing the European Water Framework Directive. Policies that drive land use changes to reduce pollution of waterways could have serious economic consequences, not just for farmers but for whole rural communities, and the research suggests that in general it would be towns that benefit. Putting a value on the benefits we derive from the natural world is always difficult, but it is important that all these aspects are costed in, not just the ones that are bought and sold on the market. And we have to take into account how these vary across different geographical areas. The encouraging news is that this projest has devised a model that will enable policymakers to do just that, meaning environmental investments can be targeted more effectively, to ensure that everyone gets the maximum value for money. So it's not just the people with pleasure boats, or indeed just the farmers, who benefit.

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