Farmers deem NVZ review unnecessary
The NFU has declared that a review of nitrate directives was “premature and unnecessary”, after Defra launched a four-month consultation aiming to shape a revised set of regulations. The new rules, which will come into force in January 2013 could include the expansion of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) to the whole of England, instead of the current 62%.
NFU head of policy services Andrew Clark said: “Some of the key measures introduced at the previous review in 2008 are only now being implemented fully, so their effect is yet to be measured. In this context it seems premature to make substantial change to the existing programme.
“Defra proposes several changes of significant concern and potential cost – notably changing the Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil regulations, without clear evidence of pollution resulting from older storage, further extensions to the closed periods for slurry spreading on heavier soils and the re-consideration of cover crops requirements for sandy soils.
“The reducing pressure from agricultural nitrate is reflected in a small but important reduction in NVZ designations for the first time. We believe this makes Defra’s case for ‘whole territory’ designation all the more unnecessary.”
The consultation ends on 13 March 2012, and Clark added that the NFU would be consulting its members and farm advisers on the proposals.
Nitrate directives were implemented in the EU in 2008 to reduce water pollution from agricultural sources, imposing a manure limit on farms and causing considerable equipment costs for livestock farmers.