NVZ designation could add to regulation burden

7th September 2012

With harvest well and truly on its way (admittedly with frequent rain breaks) there is much discussion as to quantity and quality and the affect on prices current and going forward. It’s a mixed bag when it comes to harvest reports, with some reporting horrific yields (especially in OSR) and others being pleasantly surprised with normal yields in barley. It’s definitely a year to take whatever small positives there are. One being, that if the yields are down, but the price is up arable farmers will generally come out better with lower drying, haulage and marketing costs.

The patchy weather also continues to have an impact on the stock with cattle and sheep not performing. There’s plenty of grass, however the ability to keep the dry matter intake up has been impaired which has put finishing back. With many struggling to get decent aftermath grazing on which to wean lambs due to the late silage cuts, the thought of higher feed bills on the back of this year’s arable harvest will also not be welcome.

The last thing needed this year would be a raft of more regulations to follow, however for some, this will be exactly what will happen from January 1st 2013. Defra will be writing to (or will have by publication) any business falling within the new areas for NVZ regulation.

The pace of change means that preparing a case for appeal is urgent with the deadline for appeals being 28 days from notification, a much shorter timeframe than previous rounds. If an appeal is not made and you become designated under a new NVZ, there are strict mandatory rules which must be adhered, to meet the RPA’s inspectors Cross-Compliance standards under the Single Farm Payments (SFP) scheme.

Land is designated as an NVZ where it drains to, and contributes to, the pollution of “polluted” water, specifically:

• Surface water which has or could have if action is not taken, a nitrate concentration greater than 50mg per litre.
• A ground water which has or could have if action is not taken, a nitrate concentration greater than 50mg per litre.
• A surface water which is entropic, or in the near future may become entropic, if action is not taken.

During the last round of designations (2007), 50% of 700 appeals were successful.

If you wish to appeal the designation of NVZ, this would entail a deconstruction of the grounds for designation, amongst other things, providing a case for repeal based on evidenced reasons that the land in question:

(a) Does not drain into water which:

i.The Secretary of State is minded to indentify, or continue to identify, as being polluted, or
ii.has been similarly identified in Wales or Scotland, or

(b) Drains into water which the Secretary of State should not identify, or continue to identify, as being polluted.

Numerous regulatory changes also exist on the horizon because of the UK government’s requirement to implement the European Union Nitrates Directive 2008. Some of the new regulations will have a retrospective effect, in relation to standards for silage, slurry and agricultural feed and oil stores. These need to be watched out for by all those in an NVZ, new or existing.

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