Scientific Evidence Drives 24 Percent Cut in NVZ Area

But two new areas proposed for Scotland

A Scottish Government consultation launched today (10 April) will significantly reduce the overall area of farmland in Scotland affected by restrictions on nitrate use.

The consultation, titled ‘Review of Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) Designated Areas in Scotland 2013’, proposes that, based on water quality measurements, geology, land use and other factors, the NVZ map for Scotland should be redrawn.

There are four existing NVZ areas:

-    Moray, Aberdeenshire, Banff and Buchan
-    Strathmore and Fife
-    Lothian and Borders
-    Lower Nithsdale

The consultation recommends the removal of areas affecting 35 groundwater bodies across these four NVZs, with the proposal that an area centred on Finavon be added to the Strathmore and Fife NVZ.  The consultation also gives consideration to creating a new NVZ area around the Piltanton Burn near Stranraer.  Any changes at Finavon and Piltanton are not proposed to take effect until autumn 2015 – 18 months from now.

NFU Scotland Vice President Allan Bowie said:

“After years of lobbying for a more proportionate approach to NVZ designation, NFU Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposal to lift a significant number of Scottish farmers out of NVZ restrictions.  That will be appreciated by many producers.

“We recognise that this consultation period runs for two months but after that, we would want to see Scottish Government crack on with the work to remove these areas from NVZ restrictions before the 2014 Autumn/Winter closed periods begins.

“We have always argued that robust, scientific evidence must be the defining element in NVZ designation. The new methodology is more robust and is to be welcomed, but it would have avoided much frustration and unnecessary paperwork and restriction for many farmers had such an approach had been adopted from day one back in 2002.

“The consultation brings the potential of NVZ restrictions being introduced around Finavon and near Stranraer.  We will be holding member meetings in the two areas earmarked as new NVZs during May, at which SEPA and Scottish Government staff will be present.

“For those lifted out of NVZ restrictions, a key message is that the work done to improve water quality must continue.  Scientific evidence that supports exclusion could also, if there is a deterioration in nitrate levels, give Scottish Government the justification to re-designate areas as NVZs that it has this time around chosen to remove.   This is not a one-way ticket out of the NVZ and those farmers should continue to do their best to minimise diffuse pollution.”  

Notes to Editors

  • The Nitrates Directive requires Member States to designate nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) where there is a serious threat to the water environment from nitrate from agricultural sources. Member States (MS) are then required to introduce and implement an Action Programme of a particular form in those zones. A review was carried out during 2013 of the designations of NVZs in Scotland; this consultation proposes revisions to the current Nitrate Vulnerable Zones.
  • Within existing NVZ areas, the Scottish Government consultation recommends the removal of areas affecting 35 groundwater bodies and the inclusion of an area affecting 1 groundwater bodies.
  • The consultation gives consideration to the creation of a new NVZ area in the Stranraer lowlands.
  • The consultation is available at:


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 74/14

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