2 May 1997

High Court told of NVZburden

EAST Anglian farmers told the High Court this week that nitrate vulnerable zone restrictions were imposing an unfair burden on the agricultural sector, while other nitrate producers remained unaffected.

Over 70 farmers, with the support of the NFU, are appealing against the NVZ designation of land surrounding the River Waveney in Suffolk and the rivers Blackwater and Chelmer in Essex.

David Vaughan, representing the farmers, told the two-day hearing that the Department of the Environment designation had cut the value of their land by up to £100m, yet other nitrate producers, such as power stations, sewage processors and industry, remained unaffected.

The farmers urged the High Court Judge Mr Justice Potts to declare the implementation of the anti-pollution programme unlawful and to refer the case to the European Court of Justice for a final ruling.

But Stephen Richard, counsel for the DoE, said the farmers case had an "air of unreality" and ignored the fact the EC directive had been specifically aimed at nitrate pollution caused by agriculture.

"The basic considerations which underlie the directive are that nitrate pollution in the water is a danger to human health, living resources and aquatic ecosystems, and the main cause of pollution affecting the communitys water is nitrates from agricultural sources."

The ruling is expected to be given next week. &#42