THE WELSH GOVERNMENT has announced significant changes to the regulation of agricultural pollution in the country.

It is effectively creating a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone across the entire territory, as opposed to areas deemed at particular risk.

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Just 2.4% of the country is currently under NVZ controls.

Welsh minister for the environment Lesley Griffiths said the new regulations, which come into force from 1 April, would protect the health of Wales’ rivers, lakes and streams.

“Agricultural pollution has affected water bodies across Wales for far too long, and I am determined to act to protect the Welsh countryside while supporting our farmers that want to do the right thing,” Ms Griffiths said.

Three incidents a week

“We continue to face a rate of more than three agricultural pollution incidents per week, and against such a backdrop, we are bound to do all we can protect the public and the environment.

“I have given the industry every opportunity over the past four years to address the issue and bring those who are polluting our rivers in line with the many farmers who care for the environment.”

But NFU Cymru said it was ‘astounded’ by the move, particularly at the height of the covid-19 pandemic.

‘Woefully inadequate’

The union also labelled the support package offered for farmers to adjust as ‘woefully inadequate’.

NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “NFU Cymru is absolutely clear that an all-Wales NVZ is indiscriminate and punitive.

“It will affect every farmer, every sector and every area of Wales who will be subject to draconian record keeping, complex restrictions on the day-to-day running of their businesses and, for many, exorbitant costs.

“We can only conclude that, in taking this decision, government continues to have absolutely no comprehension of the impacts of these regulations.

“NFU Cymru remains committed to challenging these damaging regulations and pursuing every possible avenue available to seek to mitigate their harmful impact.”