NFU Cymru has warned the long wait for the results of the Welsh Government’s consultation on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) has left farmers ‘extremely unsettled’ and unable to plan for the future.
The proposals could see current NVZ designations increased from 2.4 per cent of Wales to 8 per cent, or even an all-Wales designation.
Farmers were furious with the timing of the NVZ consultation, believing the decision to hold it over the Christmas period, and in conjunction with another consultation on bovine TB, was a deliberate ploy to make it difficult for them to respond.
Now the union has called on policy makers to reconsider the proposals and asked them to take account of the good work which has already been taking place, pointing to the environmental successes shared on Twitter by Welsh farmers.
NFU Cymru Pembrokeshire county chairman Jeff Evans said: “The Welsh Government’s consultation closed just before Christmas and yet we are still waiting to hear the outcome.
“It is an extremely unsettling time for all of us running farm businesses which are likely to be affected by these proposals. Farming is a long-term business and it is difficult for us to plan for the future with this axe swinging above our heads.
“NFU Cymru remains unconvinced that, on the basis of the evidence presented by Natural Resources Wales as part of this consultation, further NVZ designations are necessary in Wales.”
The union is instead demanding that the Government work in partnership with industry on water quality to find local solutions to local problems.
“This is not about farmers shirking their responsibilities when it comes to water quality”, Mr Evans said.
“We are committed to working with Welsh Government and other partners to develop alternative approaches which will deliver better outcomes.”
A Welsh Government spokesman told Farmers Guardian: “We are pleased NFU Cymru is committed to working with us to tackle agricultural pollution. We have seen an increase in the number of pollution incidents lately and it is having a significant and detrimental impact.
“We are carefully considering the responses to our recent consultation and the Cabinet Secretary will be announcing her preferred approach later in the year.”