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New NVZ designations for England announced

2nd Dec 2016 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has announced details of new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) designations that will apply in England between 2017 and 2020. 

nvzThe overall area of England under NVZ designaton remains largely unchanged at about 58 per cent, with a number of new areas designated while others have been removed. 

A map showing the changes can be viewed here

More detailed maps are available on the Environment Agency’s WIYBY website.

The designations will take effect from December 31, 2016.

Defra will be sending written notices to all those it knows own or occupy land within the proposed NVZs. These will be sent in tranches in the New Year. It has decided against issuing any notices before the end of the year to avoid the appeal period for farmers running into the Christmas holiday.

Transitional arrangements will be put in place for those not currently within an NVZ to allow time to adapt practices. The exact nature of these transitional arrangements is still subject to Ministerial agreement and Defra will write provide more details shortly.


Farmers will have the opportunity to appeal against designation once they receive a notice. Information about the appeals process will be provided in the notice and on the Defra website in due course. 

Defra said: "As agriculture remains the main source of nitrate pollution in water, it is important to take action. 

"Scientific evidence suggests that to address elevated nitrate levels in our waters we need to make some small amendments to the designated area. Following the review, the overall designated zone within England will remain around 58 per cent with a number of new and de-designated areas."
"We believe the proposed NVZ designation is the right one given the scientific evidence available to us."
In addition to reviewing NVZ designations, Defra is also obliged to review the measures in its NVZ Action Programme. It will issue a public consultation with proposals for minor changes in the spring.  

Brexit opportunity 

Defra's announcement also included a look ahead to our departure from the EU.
It said: "In the longer term and depending on our exit agreement, leaving the EU may offer opportunities to tackle nitrate pollution in a different way without compromising environmental protection."