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Nitrate plan to be studied

by 5m Editor
22 December 2006, at 6:32am

ABERDEEN - The science behind moves to impose even tougher nitrate restrictions on 14,500 Scottish farming businesses has been called into doubt by NFU Scotland.

It has brought in its own scientific experts to study Scottish Executive proposals for changes to existing nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) rules that would further limit the amount of fertiliser and farmyard manure that farmers can put on the land.

The executive maintains its new demands are necessary to lessen the impact agricultural operations have on drinking water quality in Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, Moray and parts of Angus, Perthshire, Fife, the Lothians, Upper Nithsdale and central Scotland. Too much nitrate in drinking water can be dangerous for infants, causing blue baby disease which prevents oxygen being carried in their blood.

But union vice-president Jim McLaren said it was already difficult for the farming industry to comply with the regulations currently in place. He specifically criticised the cut in nitrate limits from 250kg to 170kg per hectare and the introduction of controls that will decide if farmers are making the most efficient use of fertiliser.

He added: "We're hugely concerned at the implications of this. The new demands are so onerous." Mr McLaren feared the impact on dairy, pig and poultry farms could be so severe that they may have to cut livestock numbers to comply.

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5m Editor