NVZ appeals benefit more farmers than expected

Farmers may discover they are no longer in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone – despite not actually appealing against their designation decision themselves.

Farmers, backed by the NFU, are winning many of the appeals against NVZ designation and these “wins” are having a positive impact on all farms in that same drainage area.

It could mean that farmers no longer need to invest in additional slurry storage, saving themselves thousands of pounds.

Andrew Clark, NFU head of policy services, said: “Where the classification of a river as ‘polluted’ by nitrate has been successfully challenged, all farmers with land draining into that part of the river will be removed from the NVZ regardless of whether or not they appealed.

“This means farms falling within areas where land is successfully removed from a NVZ will no longer need to meet the stringent requirements in the NVZ Action programme, including the minimum slurry storage obligation – saving some farmers £100,000s of pounds.

“Farmers who are about to commit to building such storage should keep an eye on the emerging NVZ appeal results to see if they are still necessary.”

Farmers Weekly has already been contacted by a farmer in the north west of England who believes that a successful appeal in Cheshire could mean that hundreds of dairy farmers in the region escape the new rules.

But he said that most of the affected farmers were unaware of the situation and needed to be notified by DEFRA immediately.