11 April 1997

NFU adds weight to E Anglian farmers challenge over NVZs

THE NFU has successfully applied to the High Court to intervene on behalf of East Anglian farmers in a judicial review of their nitrate vulnerable zone designations.

The NVZ response groups, formed by farmers in the Blackwater Valley, Chelmer and Waverney NVZs, are challenging MAFF and the Department of the Environment in the High Court on Apr 28.

They have claimed that the NVZ designations will place restrictions on their farming practices, such as how and when certain types of manure can be used.

Tony Pexton, NFU deputy president, said that by being given leave to intervene legally on behalf of the groups, the NFU would be able to highlight its concerns over particular criteria used to designate a NVZ.

"The NFU will point to the need for non-agricultural sources of nitrate, such as sewage works, to be taken into account when testing for nitrate levels is done," added Mr Pexton.

NVZ areas are classified if nitrates in drinking water at an abstraction point exceed 50mg/litre and agriculture is a significant source.

"The groups have clearly worked extremely hard to raise this issue and it is highly appropriate that the NFU should lend its weight to such action," Mr Pexton said.n