Thaw between farmers and SEPA

UK - The relationship between the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and NFU Scotland appears to have improved considerably in recent weeks, though there are still many areas of disagreement.
calendar icon 15 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Farmers are particularly concerned about the impact of further restrictions on spreading slurry and other organic manures in nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs), which cover 14 per cent of the Scottish landmass. If the proposals go through in their current form, 40 per cent of the pig producers of Scotland have indicated they will cease operations.

Similarly, a sizeable number of dairy farmers, especially in the Nith Valley in Dumfriesshire, will face heavy investments in additional slurry storage to comply with the rules. That would be very difficult to contemplate when returns from milk production are little better than break-even for most producers.

In response to these concerns Ross Finnie, the rural development minister, launched a consultation process with industry stakeholders.

The detailed submissions, of which there were a large number, are now being considered by the Scottish Executive's Environment and Rural Affairs Department.

Rob Morris, the land policy unit manager with SEPA, said:

"Our role at SEPA is to monitor whatever is put in place, but it is clear that there will be no announcement until after the elections to the Scottish Parliament. It will then be up to the new administration to make the appropriate decisions."

However, it is clear that the Executive is largely hamstrung by the EU's nitrate directive. If it does not comply there is a risk that approval will not be granted for the new Scottish Rural Development Programme. That would have major implications for the countryside and could potentially put at risk support for livestock farming in the hills and uplands. The word "blackmail" has frequently been used in this context.

Source: The Scotsman
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