NFU Scotland has described the news that the European Commission
has demanded the imposition of costly new Nitrate Vulnerable
Zone regulations on farmers as a devastating blow.
NFUS President Jim McLaren
The Union believes the new rules contradict scientific
evidence and are a defeat for common sense.
NFUS has been arguing for nearly two years that the proposals,
such as those which would force farmers to build large
new slurry storage facilities costing tens of thousands
of pounds, lack scientific justification.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead has
now offered to explore every option to alleviate the huge
burden of this decision and NFUS has undertaken to work
closely with the Scottish Government on this in the coming
NFUS President Jim McLaren said:
“This is a devastating blow. What is most galling
is that I feel we have won the argument, but lost the decision.
All I have said from day one is that if someone can present
me with evidence to show we have a nitrate problem which
requires 6 months storage to solve, I would accept it.
That evidence has never arrived on my desk and it would
seem that we are being forced to accept this simply because
the rest of Europe has.
“The new Scottish Government has already done much
to meet the high expectations of the industry and there
was therefore a real hope that this administration would
be able to chart a route out of this NVZ mess. However,
it is a route which eluded their predecessors and has ultimately
“The Scottish Government is clear that the lack
of an Action Plan incorporating an exact 22 and 26-week
storage requirement would have prevented approval of Scotland’s
Rural Development Programme by the European Commission.
And we have been told that no amount of further discussion
or delay would have changed this. This, on top of the threat
of legal action, proved the final straws for the Scottish
Government in this fight. It is the same threat which has
forced Governments elsewhere in Europe to act and we are
the latest to suffer.
“For livestock producers in NVZs, that have suffered
a hellish Autumn anyway, hearing news that they may face
a bill of tens of thousands of pounds is horrendous. The
essential task now is to sit down with the Scottish Government
and chart a way through this nightmare. Grant assistance
for storage will be top of the agenda along with a long
lead in time to allow the industry to adapt. The Cabinet
Secretary has assured us he will make every effort to minimise
the effects of this announcement on people’s livelihoods,
an assurance I appreciate, and this is the basis on which
we must now go forward.”
Natural England calls for a greener CAP
NFUS Tells Lords of Long-Term CAP Vision
Welsh Farmers Fuelling the Future