Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 12th March 2012.

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Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Conservative, Hexham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on farmers of nitrate vulnerable zones regulations on slurry storage.

Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The implementation date for the increased storage requirements was 1 January 2012, when it became compulsory for farmers in NVZs to have sufficient storage capacity for the slurry their farms produce. The 2008 regulations which set this out were accompanied by an impact assessment.

As part of a review of the implementation of the nitrates directive in England, which is currently ongoing, we have provided evidence on both the environmental and economic effect of the existing NVZ regulations on slurry storage.

Included with the ongoing consultation documents (available on the DEFRA website) is evidence on both the environmental and economic effect of the above NVZ regulations on slurry storage. The environmental benefit of five months storage was estimated as leading to a reduction of leaching by 0.5% to 1.5%. The cost of compliance with the NVZ slurry storage regulations is the dominant cost to farmers of the Action Programme. A case study was included in the evidence to illustrate the cost of increasing to five months storage: a 110 dairy cow herd with only three months slurry storage. The capital costs of providing sufficient storage ranged between £32,470 and £39,843.

The Farm Practice Survey 2011 data on slurry storage illustrate that on dairy farms (not all of which were in NVZs), 26% had less than four months storage, and 61% had four to six months storage, the remaining 13% having more than six months storage. The NVZ Action Plan requirement is five months storage.

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