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News

New measures for nitrate vulnerable zones

Defra : 01 May, 2006  (New Product)
Under the Nitrates Directive, the NVZ Action Programme must be reviewed at least every four years. There are indications that existing measures are not providing effective protection of waters from nitrate pollution and need to be tightened. Defra is in discussion with the European Commission about the form revised measures might take, and comments from the farmers' workshops will be fed into those discussions.
Farmers across England are being given the opportunity to contribute to the development of new Action Programme measures for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones.

Defra and the Rural Development Service have invited a wide range of farmers, including large and small businesses from the arable, livestock, horticulture and mixed farming sectors - to workshops on proposed changes to the NVZ Action Programme regulations. Those invited to participate were selected through RDS local networks and through liaison with stakeholders and partners.

Under the Nitrates Directive, the NVZ Action Programme must be reviewed at least every four years. There are indications that existing measures are not providing effective protection of waters from nitrate pollution and need to be tightened. Defra is in discussion with the European Commission about the form revised measures might take, and comments from the farmers' workshops will be fed into those discussions.

Proposals are also being discussed with organisations including the NFU, CLA and the Tenant Farmers Association, among others.

Initial thoughts on revisions to the Action Programme include:

A reduction in the maximum manure and slurry application rates on grassland and arable land to 170 kilograms per hectare of nitrogen, averaged over the farm area.
The introduction of 'closed periods' across all soil types and an increase in the length of 'closed period' restrictions.
A requirement for increased storage capacity for slurry, to cover the revised closed periods.
Defra is also considering a targeted approach to implementation of the measures so that farmers in different climates or on different soils would have different Action Programme rules, appropriate to their different locations and nitrate pollution control needs.

As discussions with farmers and the Commission progress, and potential changes become clearer, Defra will issue a further statement. Formal consultation on the measures will take place in February 2006.
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