Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008

Applies in England

Title: Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008 (as amended)

Category: England Regulations

Date: 2008

Reference: SI 2008/2349 [Full text] (amended by SI 2009/3160 [Full text], SI 2012/1849 [Full text], SI 2013/1001 [Full text] and SI 2013/2619 [Full text])

General Description:

These Regulations come into force on 1st January 2009 and revoke and replace, in so far as they apply in England, Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (England and Wales) Regulations (as amended), NVZ (Additional Designations) (England) (No2) Regulations, and other regulations which controlled the application of nitrogen fertiliser in nitrate sensitive areas.

They continue to implement in England Council Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution by nitrates from agricultural sources.

Principal changes

The principal changes are as follows.

The Regulations extend the areas designated as nitrate vulnerable zones.

The permitted annual level of nitrate application of livestock manure to grassland in a nitrate vulnerable zone is reduced from 250 kg/ha to 170 kg/ha (previously the lower limit applied to land other than grassland).

They change the period during which organic manure in a nitrate vulnerable zone may not be spread and increase the amount of organic manure storage capacity required.

The Regulations

The Regulations designate nitrate vulnerable zones and establish an appeals procedure against the designation (Part 2).

They impose annual limits on the amount of nitrogen from organic manure that may be applied or spread in a holding in a nitrate vulnerable zone (Part 3).

Part 4 establishes requirements relating to the amount of nitrogen to be spread on a crop, and requires an occupier to plan in advance how much nitrogen fertiliser will be spread.

Part 5 requires an occupier to provide a risk map of the holding (regulation 18) and imposes conditions on how, where and when to spread nitrogen fertiliser. Part 6 establishes closed periods during which it is prohibited to spread nitrogen fertiliser.

Part 7 makes provision for how nitrogen fertiliser must be stored, and requires storage capacity for manure produced on the holding during the period specified in that Part.

Part 8 specifies which records must be kept. Part 9 requires the Secretary of State to review the Regulations within set time scales.

The Regulations are enforced by the Environment Agency.

Breach of the Regulations is an offence punishable:

  • on summary conviction, with a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or
  • on conviction on indictment, with a fine.

The 2009 amendments implement in England Commission Decision 2009/431/EC (OJ No L 141, 6.6.09, p48) granting a derogation pursuant to Council Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution by nitrates from agricultural sources and include:

  • Regulation 3(2) amends regulation 3 (coming into force) to extend the coming into force date of the manure storage requirements and the prohibition on high trajectory spreading equipment for those holdings identified on maps deposited at the offices of the Secretary of State as being within an area marked as a NVZ deferred slurry storage area.
  • Regulation 5 inserts a new Part 3A which introduces a procedure by which an application for a derogation must be made, conditions under which a deemed derogation shall be granted for 2009 and establishes an appeal procedure against refusal of a derogation application.
  • Regulation 7 allows the use of spreading equipment with a spreading trajectory of more than 4 metres from the ground to be used in certain circumstances.
  • Regulation 10 replaces Schedules 1 to 3 and inserts a new Schedule 4 which sets out additional requirements to be met by an occupier of a derogated holding.
  • Regulation 11 inserts new regulation 84D into the Habitats Regulations requiring the effect on a European site to be considered before granting a derogation and, subject to certain exceptions, restrict the grant of a derogation where the integrity of the European site would be adversely affected.

The 2012 amendments revoke and replace certain provisions in Part 2 of SI 2008/2349 which relate to the designation of nitrate vulnerable zones. Regulation 2 revokes regulations 8, 9 and 10 of the principal Regulations and new provisions are inserted as regulations 11A to 11E. These require the Environment Agency to make recommendations to the Secretary of State about the designation of areas of land as nitrate vulnerable zones, and for the Secretary of State to publish her proposals having regard to those recommendations, sending notice to owners or occupiers of holdings in the areas proposed to be designated. The independent panel arrangements in Part 2 of the principal Regulations which applied in relation to the designation of nitrate vulnerable zones in 2008 and 2009 are replaced with a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (see new regulation 11B). The grounds for appeal are that the holding concerned does not drain into water identified as polluted, or that the water it does drain into should not be identified by the Secretary of State as being polluted. New regulation 11C sets out the grounds of appeal. New regulation 11D provides for the effect of a decision of the Tribunal when the Secretary of State revises or adds to the designation of nitrate vulnerable zones under regulation 11(4)(d).

The 2012 amendments (SI 2013/1001 - The Nitrate Pollution Prevention (Amendment) and Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (England) (Amendment) Regulations) amend certain provisions of the Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008 (S.I. 2008/2349) (“the 2008 Regulations”) which relate to the measures required in the nitrate vulnerable zones in England. They also give statutory effect to the revised designations of nitrate vulnerable zones in England made by the Secretary of State on 10th April 2013.

The 2013 amendments (SI 2013/2619 - The Nitrate Pollution Prevention (Designation and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations)amend certain provisions of the Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008 (S.I. 2008/2349) (“the 2008 Regulations”) which relate to the measures required in the nitrate vulnerable zones in England. They also give statutory effect to the revised designations of nitrate vulnerable zones in England made by the Secretary of State on 1st October 2013.

Pertinence to Agriculture: Agricultural Pollution, Water, Nitrates

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