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NVZ Proposals a Threat to Dairying and Livestock
22/08/07

The NFU is calling for a detailed and rigorous review of the Government’s revised proposals for implementing the EU Nitrates Directive, after a consultation paper published this week revealed that as much as 70 per cent of farmland in England could be designated as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone.

slurry spreading

Under the new proposals farmers would be required to have five to six months’ slurry storage - a move which would impact particularly heavily on the dairy sector, costing tens of thousands of pounds per farm.

The NFU says that this might be justified if the measures were likely to produce an improvement in water quality proportionate to the huge costs, estimated even by Defra at up to £48 million a year. But the NFU can see no justification for such a draconian approach against a background of falling nitrate levels in rivers, and a continuing dispute over the science underpinning the Nitrates Directive.

The main changes that the NFU will be calling for include:

  • No more land to be designated as NVZ than can be justified by the science, and that would certainly be much less than 70 per cent of farmland in England
  • The Government to offer capital grants, as in Northern Ireland, to assist farmers in complying with the new requirements
  • The additional storage requirements and other measures not to apply in those areas which qualify for de-designation under the latest NVZ methodology, or where the objectives of the Nitrates Directive are already being achieved
  • A realistic timetable for implementation
  • A continuation of the derogation from the 170kgN/ha whole farm manure limit so that larger amounts can be applied in circumstances where it is safe to do so
  • The exploration of imaginative alternatives such as anaerobic digestion that give sustainability gains

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “I am concerned that for some this may be the final straw. I am all for farmers reducing their impact on the environment but we must ensure that affected farms are given time to adapt and therefore can remain viable businesses.

“The NFU is prepared to work closely with Defra on this issue and we will be seeking substantial changes to the action programme and a package of assistance that will help farmers meet the demanding requirements of the Nitrates Directive.”

link FMD - Important Week for Scottish Livestock Sector
link NFU Scotland Requests Fuel Duty Cancellation
link Agricultural Link with Crofting Vital, Says NFUS

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