18 January 2002

Proposals for NVZ expansion under attack

PLANS for a massive expansion of nitrate restrictions on farms across Britain and Ireland have received short shrift from farmers leaders.

NFU president Ben Gill said farmers did not have to tick either of the two choices offered in a government consultation – for an NVZ designation over 80% or the whole of the UK.

"Take a red pen and write in a third choice – to have a designation over none of the UK – and then write to explain why youve done it," advised Mr Gill.

Farmers in Scotland said similar plans to designate 18% of the countrys land area as an NVZ were largely irrelevant.

The proposals, drawn up in an effort to safeguard supplies of drinking water, would mainly affect arable areas in east Scotland.

John Kinnaird, vice-president of NFU Scotland, said the proposals were largely irrelevant because only 3-4% of Scotlands drinking water comes from groundwater supplies.

But he added: "If there is genuine environmental concern in a particular area, farmers will do all they can to comply."

Meanwhile, proposals to designate the whole of Ireland an NVZ must be postponed until the causes of rural water pollution are fully understood, said John Dillon, the new president of the Irish Farmers Association. &#42