NFU comments on latest nitrate regulations
NewsMonday 20 May 2013
The NFU has recently commented on the new nitrate regulations which came into force last week. The revised Nitrate Vulnerable Zones will mean that around 6,700 fewer farms will now be affected by the rules.
The farming union stated that the latest regulation changes will have both positive and negative impacts on the farmers who are within the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones.
Other changes that were made were welcomed by farmers, such as the decision to allow the spreading of manure to within six metres of watercourses, if using precision equipment. And, they have also cut down on some of the record keeping meaning that farmers no longer need to keep certain records, if they are applying nitrate in a low intensity situation.
However, these changes will also extend the closed period on medium or heavy land for a further two weeks, until the end of January. The NFU also revealed its disappointment with the new requirements not subject to the original consultation that will be placed on temporary manure field heaps to be as ‘reasonably compact as possible’.
Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “After several months of uncertainty and appeals, the new rules provide some clarity to those in areas under designation and a slight reduction in area designated in England reflects the declining nitrate trends in some areas.
“In addition, we are pleased that Defra has listened and backed down on proposals to introduce retrospective application of standards to older, 20-year-plus silage, slurry and agricultural fuel oil stores, and recognised the need to review the evidence on the condition of these stores.
“However, we strongly opposed the government’s original proposals to extend the closed periods as Defra’s own evidence recognised that this just swapped nitrate in water for the same amount of ammonia released to the atmosphere.
“Further, the introduction of new rules for manure heaps appears to us to be completely unnecessary and not evidence based. We are working with Defra and the Rural Payments Agency to ensure that this new requirement will be fairly and practically interpreted by inspectors, with minimal impact on farmers.”