Policy Cost-effectiveness for Reducing Non-point Agricultural Groundwater Pollution in the UK
A pilot Nitrate Sensitive Areas Scheme was established in 1990 in order to reduce nitrate pollution in heavily polluted areas of the UK through changes in land management. A regression model is derived from field observations which predicts the quantity of nitrate leaching into the groundwater as a function of land use, drainage conditions and fertilizer usage. It is used to explore the cost effectiveness of different land management options for which incentives were provided within the scheme. The most cost effective measures in terms of net exchequer cost per kilogram reduction in nitrogen leached were conversion to grassland with limited restriction on nitrogen fertilization, or conversion to woodland. A basic option involving minor changes to fertilizer practice on arable land was also cost effective but failed to achieve the target nitrate level in groundwater of 50 mg/l. Conversion to grassland with severe restrictions on fertilizer use was less cost effective because higher payments were necessary to encourage uptake by farmers.
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