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Ask The Legal Expert- Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

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My farm is sited in an area likely to be newly designated by the Welsh Government as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone. If this goes ahead, what will it mean for me?

This is, understandably, an issue that is causing a lot of concern among farmers in South and West Wales.

A Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) is an area of land identified by Natural Resources Wales where nitrates from manufactured fertiliser and slurry, which is spread on the land, leech into waterways and can cause damage to fish and fauna.

Currently NVZ’s in Wales account for 2.4 percent of the land area. However a current Welsh Government Consultation is proposing that this area is increased to 8 percent in Wales, with the possibility of identifying designated areas in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire or perhaps even designating all of Wales as an NVZ.

If your land falls within an NVZ you will have to follow certain rules and restrictions, known as an Action Programme.  

An Action Programme promotes good practice regarding maintaining water quality and compliance with the Nitrate Pollution Prevention (Wales) Regulations 2013.

To comply with the Action Programme you will need to ensure that you have at least five months slurry storage space. As a farmer within an NVZ you cannot spread slurry on grassland during the closed period, from 15 October and 31 January on grassland, or from 1 October to 31 January on tillage. 

You would also be subject to restrictions on spreading nitrogen fertiliser, with an upper total limit of nitrogen that can be spread on your land.

You will also need to keep records for a minimum of five years to evidence these practices.

There are other rules and restrictions to comply with, which can be found in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Guidance for Farmers.

As you can see from this brief outline, the results of this consultation, which comes to a close on 23 December, could have a significant impact on farm businesses and you might want to consider commenting on the consultation, as the farming unions, including the NFU, are doing at the moment.

If you would like further advice on NVZ’s or any other agricultural matter, please contact our Rural Practice team on 03333 208644 or email:

For further advice, please contact our specialist Rural Practice solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 22 5472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671

The question posed in this blog is based on a hypothetical situation.