NFU Cymru has instructed its lawyers to challenge the lawfulness of the Welsh Government’s new water regulations.
Legal panel firm JCP Solicitors have written to the Welsh Government today (March 2), to question the adequacy of the Regulatory Impact Assessment published alongside the rules and the omission of the grassland derogation outlined in earlier draft regulations.
The bold move by the union follows an attempt by Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Llyr Gruffydd to have the regulations, which include closed periods for slurry spreading, annulled.
The motion put forward by Mr Gruffydd will be voted on this Wednesday (March 3) by the Senedd.
NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “NFU Cymru remains absolutely clear that an all-Wales NVZ is indiscriminate and punitive.
“It will affect every sector, every area of Wales and every farmer will be subject to draconian record keeping, complex restrictions on the day-to-day running of their businesses and, for many, exorbitant costs.
“The strength of feeling over this regulation from not only farmers, but also from those thousands of farming businesses who rely on a productive farming sector, has been overwhelming and NFU Cymru is acting for each and every one of them.”
Welsh Government has insisted on ploughing ahead with the new regulations in the face of massive opposition from the farming sector, which insists water quality outcomes can be improved with a voluntary approach.
Regulator Natural Resources Wales has previously warned the rules would force farmers to increase outwintering of animals to reduce slurry production, with negative consequences for soil and water.
Speaking ahead of the Senedd debate tomorrow, Mr Gruffydd said the regulations would create new pollution issues where there are none as farmers clear their slurry stores immediately before and after the closed periods.
“The capital investment required to meet these regulations will drive many out of cattle farming,” he added.
“The subsequent loss of cattle from the uplands will undermine the controlled grazing that has contributed so much to improving habitats and restoring biodiversity.”