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Economic benefits of diffuse pollution mitigation targeting

A new ESRC research project investigating the economic benefits of diffuse pollution mitigation targeting is using SCIMAP. This project is lead by Dr. Ashar Aftab with Dr. Sim Reaney and Professor Nick Hanley and will be using SCIMAP within the Defra DTC catchments to identify the optimal locations to install diffuse pollution measures. The economic benefit of this minimal intervention will then be assessed using crop growth and yield models in terms of production profit. This is a three year project and will be completed at the end of 2014.

Full details:


This interdisciplinary research investigates novel cost-effective approaches to controlling nonpoint water pollution (NP) from agriculture. It involves using recent advances in surveillance science and risk profiling that permit identifying land, which is more likely to contribute to pollution. The aim is to quantify the economic and environmental benefits of using spatially targeted regulation on high-risk land ie pollution prone and hydrologically connected to rivers. Thus farmers will mainly take control measures, and regulators will mostly inspect practices, on targeted high-risk land.

The research will model and quantify the benefit to farmers and regulators from adopting a micro-targeted approach to multi-pollutant NP regulation using Bio-physical Economic Modelling of two English catchments. The study will also investigate the transferability of policy recommendations across catchments:

  • making them more broadly applicable
  • determine the ‘hidden transaction costs’ of policies through structured surveys of farmers
  • investigate the use of novel economic incentives that encourage spatial coordination of abatement effort
  • analyse the trade-off between various agricultural externalities
  • investigate spatial targeting land retirement to increase farmland biodiversity.

This spatially targeted approach should reduce the cost of complying with environmental standards – thus benefiting regulators, farmers and the environment.

Details at ESRC