The European Environmental Liability Directive, which is now being introduced, works on the laudable "polluter pays" principle. But its original provisions were aimed at large industrial concerns which were to be forced to take out anti-pollution insurance or lodge huge bonds with the authorities to cover the cost on any clean-up measures.
Such costs would have been an impossible burden on small farmers so, after long negotiations, the EU has agreed that farmers will not be liable to this if they can prove that they broke no laws in cases of accidental pollution.
The NFU, however, has still to convince the British government to implement the get-out clauses.
As with all EU legislation, the new rules will baffle most people. For those wanting to study them further, please visit the Q and A section of the EU website, which in itself is a challenge.