19 April 1996

Doubling call for NVZ aid

By Tony McDougal

LABOUR called this week for a doubling of the grant aid for producers who face escalating costs within the 68 designated nitrate vulnerable zones.

Junior shadow farm minister Elliot Morley urged the government, during a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, to increase the farm waste grant to eligible livestock farmers to 50%.

Under the former farm and conservation grant scheme, Mr Morley said farmers had been able to obtain half their expenditure from MAFF, before the allocation was cut by the government.

He claimed the £800,000 a year allocated by MAFF did not amount to much, when the NVZs were likely to affect up to 8000 farmers.

The grant, which has a ceiling limit of £85,000, opened on Wednesday, and covers waste storage, handling facilities and clean and dirty water separation other than roofing.

Mr Morley asked the government why the scheme could not be extended to cover roofing? He suggested the designation would also increase transport costs for farmers outside the zones, who had previously spread manure on arable land within the proposed NVZ area.

Junior farm minister Tim Boswell said the government had already spent more than £150m on grant aid for the agricultural industry on pollution control measures, adding there was no more cash available from the Treasury.

Mr Boswell rejected the idea of extending grant aid to roofing, claiming the majority of the NVZs were in areas of low rainfall.

He claimed that of the 8000 farmers within the NVZs, only a quarter were livestock farmers and fewer than 700 would need to spend additional capital on extra waste storage facilities. &#42