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Let us know your thoughts on air quality consultation

25th Jul 2018 / By Alistair Driver

Defra is currently consulting on plans to improve air quality, which could include new regulations on spreading fertiliser, livestock housing and slurry storage. 

Clean airThe consultation document, which can be viewed here, includes a section (Chapter 7) on reducing emissions from agriculture, which it says accounts for 88% of UK emissions of ammonia and just over half of methane emissions.

Ammonia is emitted during storage and spreading of manures, slurries and from application of inorganic fertilisers. "Ammonia damages sensitive natural habitats and contributes to smog in urban areas. Action by farmers can make a big difference to ammonia emissions. The government is already acting to help farmers by funding the necessary equipment," the document says.

It outlines a number of proposed actions, including: 

  • We will provide a national code of good agricultural practice to control ammonia emissions.
  • We will require and support farmers to make investments in the farm infrastructure and equipment that will reduce emissions.
  • A future environmental land management system will fund targeted action to protect habitats impacted by ammonia.
  • Natural England is currently examining options to improve the effectiveness of incentive schemes for mitigating ammonia emissions to air and protecting natural ecosystems.
  • We will continue to work with the agriculture sector to ensure the ammonia inventory reflects existing farming practice and the latest evidence on emissions.
  • We will regulate to reduce ammonia emissions from farming and are seeking views on three possible approaches to regulation.

Possible regulatory changes include the introduction of nitrogen fertiliser limits and various rules on specific emissions-reducing practices. These include: 

  • Mandatory design standards for new livestock housing by 2022; we propose that the standards would be developed in conjunction with industry and cover at least poultry, pig and dairy housing.
  • A requirement for all slurry and digestate stores and manure heaps to be covered by 2027.
  • A requirement for all solid manure and solid digestate spread to bare land to be incorporated rapidly (within 12 hours) by 2022.
  • A requirement to spread slurries and digestate using low-emission spreading equipment (trailing shoe or trailing hose or injection) by 2027.
  • A requirement to spread urea-based fertilisers in conjunction with urease inhibitors, unless applied by injection on appropriate land by 2020.

NPA policy services manager Lizzie Wilson said: "These proposals could have a big impact on pig farming. We will be responding to the consultation and would be grateful if members could have a quick look through Chapter 7 of the document and let us know your thoughts and any questions you have.

"Defra are already aware of our general thoughts but the more views we can feed in from members, the better case we can make for a proportionate response for the pig and and wider farming sectors."  

Please email your comments to NPA@npanet.org.uk by August 7. 

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