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NFUS Expresses Disappointment Over NVZ Proposals

by 5m Editor
17 November 2006, at 10:19am

UK - NFU Scotland has expressed its concern over proposals that have been included in the Scottish Executive’s consultation on new rules in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs). These would mainly come into force in stages, starting 6 months after the rules are approved by Parliament.

The EU Nitrates Directive obliges creation of certain rules as an Action Programme and compliance with these rules is a condition for receipt of the Single Farm Payment. These rules must be reviewed every 4 years. These proposals are the outcome of that review.

NFUS believes that these proposals as inconsistent with the evidence presented by The Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) at public meetings earlier in the year. Therefore, they are neither proportionate nor fair. Further, we require demonstration that any new rules would deliver environmental outcomes that are better than those being delivered by existing rules, including those rules that apply throughout Scotland.

NFUS Vice President Jim McLaren said:

“As well as consulting with our members, we will be looking very closely at the scientific justification for these rules. The proposals appear to be a knee-jerk reaction to some pressure from Brussels to be seen to be doing more in NVZs. Regulation on that basis is rarely proportionate, justified or effective.

“Particularly disappointing is the fact that the Department had pre-consultation meetings around the country on this. But these proposals have either rejected the views expressed by farmers at those meetings or just ignored them.

“No-one has any argument with the principle of protecting water quality, but we need a sensible discussion with the Executive and Commission about how best to do that. I've had initial, informal discussions with Commission officials and they are open to that.

“Government may view these as tweaks to the already existing action programmes, but longer closed periods have potentially huge implications for individual farms. We can't and won't accept new restrictions in the absence of proof that they will deliver an environmental or public benefit that justifies their cost. That is the essence of our regulation campaign.”

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5m Editor