Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 15th October 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the Royal Association of Dairy Farmers' request that due to summer rainfall and the effect on slurry storage there should be a national derogation for the upcoming nitrate vulnerable zone closed spreading periods.

Photo of David Heath David Heath The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Rainfall this summer has been much greater than normal, and the five months from April to August were the wettest in England and Wales since records began in 1910. This has made conditions for spreading slurry difficult on many farms. In addition, many animals have been kept indoors for significantly longer than usual because of the poor ground conditions, resulting in further slurry accumulation.

The closed period rules which apply in nitrate vulnerable zones are set out in the Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008, as amended. We do not consider that a national derogation from the closed period rules would be appropriate.

However, the Government has asked the Environment Agency to take particular account of certain matters when deciding whether enforcement action under those regulations would be appropriate during the first two weeks of the closed period as it applies to heavier land. (The closed period is 1-15 October for tillage land and 15-31 October for grassland; “heavier land” is land which is not sandy or shallow as defined in the regulations). In brief, those matters are the impact of the exceptional weather on individual farms and, in light of that, whether farmers have complied with the relevant rules and followed good practice. We have also asked the Environment Agency to take account of these matters when deciding what action should be taken when a breach of the regulations concerning the closed period is identified. The full policy statement is available on the DEFRA website.

The Environment Agency seeks to enforce the regulations in all cases in a proportionate way, taking into account all the circumstances of each case. Where the impact of the exceptional weather has been demonstrably detrimental to the individual farmer's ability to spread slurry and the factors set out in the statement apply, the Environment Agency will be in a better position to give credit to the farmer when it comes to deciding whether, in all the circumstances, enforcement action is justified and appropriate.

The Government will keep this matter under review.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.