The Government is obliged to review the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) every four years and the current review starts in January 2017. The Regulations which govern the review in England are The Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/668).
Most of the existing NVZ areas have been confirmed as remaining, but there are also some additional areas proposed to be included which have previously fallen outside the NVZ areas. The new areas include significant parts of Gloucestershire and adjacent counties.
DEFRA has now begun the process of issuing NVZ notices to all those with agricultural holdings in the Zone. Those in receipt of an NVZ designation notice have 28 days in which to lodge an appeal in respect of their inclusion. The only grounds on which an appeal may be made are that the affected holding;
a) Does not drain into water which is identified as polluted, or
b) Drains into water which is not polluted.
When the first round of notices were sent on 3rd January, many were sent to agents with no means of identifying the holding to which they were intended to relate. Consequently there is a considerable amount of confusion and a lack of detail in circulation at present.
It is therefore advisable to check whether your holding is affected by using the Environment Agency’s “What’s In Your Backyard?” mapping tool, which can be found by clicking the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones map at https://apps.environment-agency.gov.uk/wiyby/141443.aspx
The map can be searched by place name or postcode. A screen shot of the map can be found above which shows the NVZ areas for most of Gloucestershire shaded blue and hatched brown.
If you think the land you own or occupy is in an NVZ but you haven’t received a notice within a few days of the date of issue for your River Basin District, you or your adviser can contact the Environment Agency for updated details.
You will need the notice if you wish to appeal. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nitrate-vulnerable-zones-appeal-a-decision-notice
Defra and the Environment Agency recognise the difficulties for farmers who wish to appeal but receive their notice very late. In cases of genuine need, EA is able to send another notice with a revised date if requested to do so. If you are uncertain whether your land falls within an NVZ or have difficulty viewing the maps online then you can contact Bruton Knowles or the Environment Agency direct.
If your land is now within a NVZ you will need to comply with the relevant rules relating to fertiliser (including FYM) applications and manure/effluent storage.
If you require any assistance or clarification on these detailed requirements, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.