12 April 1996

NVZ grants debate

POLITICIANS are to debate in parliament the level of grant aid to farmers in nitrate vulnerable zones.

The move follows MAFFs announcement that from Apr 17, farmers will be able to claim a 25% grant for waste storage and handling facilities and clean and dirty water separation.

The NFU has welcomed the move, after expressing disappointment at the bill requiring farmers to adapt to stringent controls within the 68 designated zones in England and Wales (News, Mar 29).

It comes at a time when take-up of MAFFs nitrate sensitive area programme has reached record levels, with more than half the eligible area now within the scheme. Rural affairs minister Tim Boswell revealed that applications for nearly 6500ha (16,055 acres) of agricultural land had been accepted for the NSA scheme last year. More than 19,500ha (48,165 acres) out of the 35,000ha (86,450 acres) designated in the 32 areas are now subject to NSA rules.

"I am particularly pleased that most of those farmers who converted arable land to extensive grass under the pilot scheme in 1990 chose to re-enter their land into the new NSA scheme, thus maintaining the resulting environmental benefits for a further five years," he added.

Michael Payne, NFU nitrates officer, said the decision by MAFF last summer to introduce a set-aside option within the scheme, enabling farmers to count land under the arable area payments scheme, had been particularly beneficial. &#42