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Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations: help available for farmers to prepare for the new nitrates regulations

Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations: help available for farmers to prepare for the new nitrates regulations

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref :330/08) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 15 October 2008

A national package of advice and support for farmers preparing for the new Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations has been launched by Defra. The regulations come into force on 1 January 2009 and update the UK's implementation of the 1991 EU Nitrates Directive.

Around 60 per cent of nitrate pollution in water is caused by agriculture, and it is vital that this is tackled to protect and sustain the quality of the UK's drinking water. Farmers with land located in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) will receive a letter within the next few days about how the new rules will affect them. As NVZs now cover almost 70 per cent of England, farmers who do not receive this letter should find out if they are in an NVZ using the detailed maps available on the Defra website.

The package of advice and support aimed at helping those with land within NVZs to meet the new regulations includes:

* A helpline that answers technical queries from farmers and advisers. The telephone number is 0845 345 1302 (Monday - Friday, 7am - 7pm until 31 March 2009). Calls will be charged at the local rate.

* Information events for farmers and advisers. The events are being organised throughout NVZs in England. Invitations are being sent out but you can find out about events in your region through the helpline and at: http://www.crosscompliance.org.uk/cms/nvz or ring 0845 345 1302 to book on to an event.

* NVZ guidance leaflets covering different aspects of the new rules, which will become available in the coming days on the Defra website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/quality/nitrate . Printed copies will be available at events.

* Software tools developed to provide extra help with some of the calculations required under the new rules. These are available free of charge by visiting http://www.planet4farmers.co.uk or telephoning 08456 023864. Notes to Editors

1. More information on the Nitrates Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008 is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/quality/nitrate

2. Defra is working closely with representatives from farming industry organisations to develop a technical case to support an application to the European Commission for a derogation from the livestock manure N farm limit of 170 kg N/ha/yr. If the application is successful, we will be able to set a higher limit (e.g. 230 - 250 kg N/ha/yr) in relation to eligible farms (e.g. 70% of farm is grassland and livestock are cattle).

3. Slurry storage facilities are eligible for plant and machinery allowances such as the new Annual Investment Allowance, capped at £50,000 per year, included in this year's Finance Bill. Slurry pits also qualify for allowances in their own right under the Capital Allowances Act 2001. We are also allowing up to three years for those who may need to construct a new slurry store to comply with the minimum manure storage requirements.

4. If farmers need to make changes to manure storage facilities it could be useful to adopt anaerobic digestion as a solution. This innovative technology can be used to produce biogas, which could provide a source of energy and additional income. The treated manure can be returned to the soil and provide a valuable source of nutrients. Defra is working with industry partners to develop a plan for promoting greater uptake of anaerobic digestion.

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