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NFUS Strongly Opposes Scotgov Nitrate Proposals

Scotland’s premier farming lobby, NFU Scotland, has raised serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s intended changes to its Nitrates Action Programme, insisting that any environmental gain would be minimal compared to the extent to which it would hamper farming operations on much of Scotland’s most productive farmland.

NFUS is particularly opposed to two amendments which would extend the closed period by two weeks on heavier soils for arable and grassland – with effect from October 2013 - and increase the livestock manure nitrogen efficiency standard values used in calculating available nitrogen with effect from January 2014.

Of real concern is the fact that the Scottish Government’s proposals on both these issues run counter to the recommendations of its own environmental advisory and regulatory body, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

NFU Scotland’s Vice-President, Allan Bowie, who farms in the NVZ area of Fife, said:

“It is difficult to see why the Scottish Government is pushing for these changes to its Nitrates Action Programme. NFUS agrees entirely that farmers should apply slurries and manures in a way that minimises environmental risk, however, rules must be science-based and strike a balance with the practical and financial realities that farmers face.

“The evidence quoted by the Scottish Government to justify some of its proposed changes relates to England and Wales only, and is out of step with SRUC research relating to Scotland. This is one reason why, in its submission, SEPA questioned the proposals to increase the livestock manure nitrogen efficiency standard values.

“Of course we have to accept the requirement for each Member State to have a Nitrates Action Plan, however, the EU regulations do not require the Plan to be strengthened, only reviewed to ensure it is still fit for purpose, which it is. While the EU pushes for tighter regulation on nitrates, the Scottish Government must defend Scotland’s good record in this area robustly, otherwise the Programme will deliver neither for water quality nor for our farmers.

“These proposed changes must not be allowed to go through on the nod. NFUS has already gone back to the Scottish Government to reiterate our opposition to their proposals and will take the matter up with MSPs from all parties to ensure they are scrutinised fully and that any change to the Programme does not needlessly undermine Scotland’s farmers.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

NFU Scotland’s submission to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (Scotland) Regulations 2008 – a consultation, is available from Sarah Anderson tel: 0131 472 4108 email: sarah.anderson@nfus.org.uk or via this link: http://www.nfus.org.uk/members-area/commodities/environmental/information-archive/14483

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 02/13


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