NFU wins farmers more time to appeal

PUBLISHED: 12:07 20 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:53 15 June 2010

Farmers planning to appeal over their land's inclusion in severe new restrictions on slurry spreading and storage have gained valuable time to prepare thanks to South West NFU lobbying.

Farmers planning to appeal over their land's inclusion in severe new restrictions on slurry spreading and storage have gained valuable time to prepare thanks to South West NFU lobbying.The European NVZ (Nitrate Vulnerable Zone) regulations which, in the face of volatile farm gate returns and for marginal environmental gain, will mean compliance costs running into millions of pounds for agriculture, have been extended to cover nearly 70 per cent of the country with an estimated 22,000 agricultural holdings effected in the South West where livestock farming predominates.Farmers do have the option to appeal, but only on a very limited basis and using an incredibly complex procedure laid down by the Environment Agency."In the original timetable," says NFU SW environment adviser, Paul Cottington, "the Secretary of State at Defra, which is ultimately responsible for overseeing the imposition of the regulations, was to make an announcement in early September and then publish guidance and common data related to the appeal process at the beginning of October. This would have given any prospective appellant four months to establish a case."But departmental slippage meant the vital information needed to make an appeal was not released until halfway through December leaving less than two months to assemble complex data, consult experts and make a case by the deadline of January 31."We enlisted the support of sympathetic MPs across the region and, thanks to our lobbying, the NVZ Appeals Panel has accepted that some appellants may have difficulty obtaining their evidence in an appropriate form by that deadline."To ensure that all potential appellants have the chance to fairly present their cases, the Panel now says it will accept supporting evidence submitted by 10th March 2009 providing they have officially stated their intention to produce it by 31st January."NFU South West regional director, Melanie Hall, says: "Whilst it won't relate to all those effected, it simply would not have been fair to severely impede those of our members who do wish to challenge the inclusion of their land for perfectly legitimate reasons by so drastically curtailing the time in which they had to so, especially when faced with such a horrendously complicated appeals procedure.


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