Defra has announced English Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) designations as one in eight Welsh farmers threatened to quit the industry over controversial NVZ proposals from Cardiff.
The proposed English NVZ designations have been published on an interactive map on the Environment Agency website, allowing farmers to look at the changes before official notification early next year.
There is a 28-day window after notification for appeal.
NFU water quality adviser Nicola Dunn said: “With NVZs due to be updated in the new year, this pre-notification period presents farmers with an opportunity to check the maps and view information and underpinning NVZ designations.
“The appeals process in the new year is farmers’ only chance in the four-year period to challenge NVZ designations so it is important to take a look.”
One in eight Welsh farmers could quit over NVZ proposals
In Wales, NVZ plans have been extremely controversial. A new survey from NFU Cymru has shown around one in eight farmers would consider leaving the industry if the proposals were introduced unchanged.
Almost three quarters of surveyed farmers did not have sufficient slurry storage to meet the NVZ requirements and the average cost of upgrading facilities was estimated to be nearly £80,000.
NFU Cymru president Stephen James said: “NFU Cymru is strongly opposed to the consultation proposals as the costs associated with the implementation vastly outweigh any benefits to water quality.
“The rules will reduce a farmer’s ability to make decisions based upon their own knowledge of the land and weather, leading to a ‘farming by calendar’ approach rather than assessing the conditions on the ground.
“I sincerely hope Assembly Members are able to help derail these overly prescriptive and frankly unworkable proposals that will have a catastrophic impact on the farming industry and wider rural economy, as well as unintended consequences for the environment.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has also expressed major concerns about the designations, with president Glyn Roberts has calling for an ‘appropriate transition period and support.’
Rural affairs specialist Rebecca Morris at Bruton Knowles said: “Whether your agree or disagree with the proposals it’s vital farmers get online and have their say. Once the deadline has passed, that’s it and there’s no going back. Those who haven’t already done so can visit the Welsh Government website where they can download the response form, fill it in and send it back.
“The worst thing to do is nothing.”