New Cross-Compliance Rules on Water Quality to Apply Across Scotland

From January next year, new rules regarding the spreading of fertilisers adjacent to watercourses will affect farmers across Scotland.  Failure to meet the new cross-compliance requirements means that, under inspection, penalties may be applied to a farmer’s Single Farm Payment (SFP).

From 1 January 2012, all producers in receipt of SFP and other schemes subject to cross-compliance will face tighter rules regarding the spreading of fertiliser.  Those same rules already apply to those who farm in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). 

NFU Scotland believes the new rules will present a challenge to many farmers but working with other agencies, such as SEPA, many farmers have already undertaken measures to improve water quality.

NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy and Regions, Jonnie Hall said:

“The new requirements, which restrict the application and storage of chemical and organic fertilisers along watercourses and beside wells and boreholes, are based on the existing cross-compliance requirements for land within the NVZs.  Our members need to be aware that the new legislation now extend the NVZ rules relating to the application of fertiliser near watercourses to all of Scotland, and not just the 14 percent of the country currently designated as NVZ.

“All those who claim under SFP, LFASS and other schemes need to know that any breach of these new requirements from January 2012 onwards may then result in a penalty.

“The introduction of these rules are a legacy of the CAP Health Check agreed in 2008, which included a requirement for Member States to introduce a Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) measure to protect watercourses against diffuse pollution and run-off.  There was also the potential for the Scottish Government to roll other elements of the existing rules to tackle diffuse pollution into GAEC and cross-compliance.  That was something that NFUS successfully opposed.

“Ramping up the rules regarding buffer strips and the like would undermine the joint efforts of SEPA and NFUS to tackle diffuse pollution issues in a positive and pragmatic way - notably within Priority Catchment areas.  These efforts are currently focussed at farm level through advice, awareness raising and changing practice - rather than regulation and enforcement.  The Union believes this approach is already beginning to bring returns in terms of water quality improvements and input efficiency.

“We remain convinced that the challenges of tackling diffuse pollution can not be properly addressed through the very blunt tools of cross-compliance and inspection or regulation and enforcement.  Any move beyond the minimum requirements the EU Commission has set out at this stage might make all the good progress to date redundant.” 

Notes to Editors

  • The rules that will apply to all of Scotland as part of GAEC from 1 January 2012 are:
  • Organic fertiliser (slurries and manures) must not be applied to any land

a)  within 10 metres of any surface water (ditch, burn, river, wetland etc) and

b) within 50 metres of a well, borehole or similar water supply

  • Inorganic nitrogen fertilisers must not be applied to any land

a)  within 2 metres of surface water (this has been required under General Binding Rules across Scotland since 2008) and

b) in any other case in a location or manner that makes it likely that chemical fertiliser will directly enter any surface water


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 195/11

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