Wales to cut nitrates

Welsh Minister for the Environment Sue Essex has announced the launch of a consultation on ways of reducing nitrate pollution in the principality’s lakes and rivers.


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She is asking for views on Government plans to extend nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) following EU criticism of the UK for not designating sufficient zones in its initial submission.

The Nitrates Directive was adopted in 1991, and was designed to reduce nitrate pollution by agriculture. Member states had to establish action programmes that set out specific good agricultural practices and required states either to apply them throughout their area or in designated vulnerable zones.

To date, just two small NVZs have been designated in Wales, in 1996. Extending NVZs will increase the requirements on farmers to adopt the recommended agricultural practices such as applying fertilisers only at specific times of years and avoiding spraying near water courses.

“Nitrate pollution in rivers, lakes, groundwaters and coastal waters can cause various problems,” said Essex at the launch of the two month consultation. “It can make water unfit for drinking, limiting potential new sources of drinking water, and can damage valuable habitats.”

“Fortunately in Wales there is only limited evidence of significant nitrate

pollution,” said Essex. “Where there is evidence that high levels of nitrates are occurring, or could be if no action is taken, farmers within the designated Nitrate Vulnerable Zones will be required to take action.”

“We are keen to hear the views of all interested parties on our proposals,

particularly the farmers who will be directly affected. For that reason we have today published a consultation paper which includes a map indicating the location of existing and proposed Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in Wales.”

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