As of today (Monday, 2 February), some 2,200 Scottish farms will be partially or fully lifted out of Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) restrictions.
This landmark change follows years of NFU Scotland lobbying for a more transparent and scientific method for designating the NVZs.
NFUS understands that all land managers whose farms are being fully or partially removed will shortly receive a letter from the Scottish Government notifying them of the change. The letter will also include information on how to access field level maps of the new boundaries. These will be available from 5 February.
The recent announcement on changes to NVZ boundaries also confirmed that farmers in the Piltanton Burn area near Stranraer and Finavon in Angus will be brought into the NVZ area from 2016. Scottish Government will sent affected producers a separate letter in March.
NFU Scotland’s Deputy Director of Policy, Andrew Bauer said:
“This is a landmark day that will see a 24 percent reduction in the area of farmland in Scotland affected by Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) restrictions.
“Cutting out the NVZ-related red tape and requirements faced by thousands of farmers in the de-designated areas is an excellent result after several years of behind-the-scenes lobbying by NFU Scotland and other stakeholders.
“This marks significant progress and the development and adoption by Scottish Government and SEPA of more robust and proportionate testing to determine nitrate levels. That is something NFUS has been pursuing for some time.
“However, the downside is that new areas near to Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway and Finavon in Angus will come into the NVZ in 2016. That is disappointing given the strides farmers in these areas had taken in recent times to address nitrate levels.
“While overall this is a very positive result, all Scottish agriculture has to continue to ensure that diffuse pollution is tackled as far as is possible. Those who are being removed from the NVZ are not being given a one-way ticket out – if groundwater nitrate levels increase they could potentially be re-designated in future reviews so the great work must continue.”