“Letters to farmers and landowners about to be affected by changes to the NVZ [Nitrate Vulnerable Zone] status of their land are on their way, however the 28 day countdown to the end of the appeal process has already begun” says Andrew Jamieson, H&H Land and Property’s Agricultural Advisor .
Andrew Jamieson, H&H Land and Property’s Agricultural Advisor .
“If the Secretary of State has kept to his deadline of the 28th August, these crucial letters will hopefully be dropping into letter boxes this week, so farmers have less than a month to act and register their appeal” warns Andrew.
Within these changes are both NVZ additions and deletions in the Sunderland and Durham areas which will concern a considerable number of farmers. There are also some areas near Brampton and Workington in Cumbria which have been affected.
The original NVZs were first proposed in 2008, and were subject to over 700 appeals. 50% of these were successful. The proposed new NVZ expansion will now cover 59% of England and will affect a large number of farmers. Areas were designated as NVZs in accordance with the EC Nitrates Directive in order to reduce loss of nitrogen from agriculture to water courses, lakes and reservoirs.
Detailed information about the new zones have been available on the DEFRA website since May, and farmers have been advised to check these maps in preparation for a possible appeal, if they feel the government’s inspectors have got their facts wrong.
But whether they have or haven’t, the 28th August deadline means that only days are left to appeal against the inclusion of land in an NVZ. Once this has passed, no further appeal can be made. The new zones will then become established on January 1st 2013.
The advice from Andrew is exactly the same as the company gave in June, when the data was first published. “Don’t wait for a letter – the clock is already ticking – check the online map, and if you see a problem, get expert help to see if anything can be done at this late stage.”
Appeals must be based on the evidence presented regarding the direction of drainage flow, surface water runoff, and must prove that the land in question does not contribute to the subsequent Nitrate problem listed as the reason for designation.
Appeals will be heard by The First-tier Tribunal (Environment)
administered by The Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the
Ministry of Justice. This is independent of Defra.
Andrew suggests that professional advice and representation is required at this stage: “Appealing the designation is free but farmers will need to meet the costs of representation or advisors used to help build the strength of their case. Bearing in mind the approaching deadline – you have not a second to lose if you have grounds for appeal.”
Farms in an NVZ must observe restrictions on spreading quantities of fertiliser and farm yard manure and when it can be spread. There must also follow very strict guidelines on slurry storage. Other farms should follow the Code of Good Agricultural Practice and must comply with the requirements of the Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) Regulations.
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