South West farmers reminded of slurry regulation deadline

Farmers in the South West are being reminded they have six weeks to enlarge their slurry storage units.

Farmland in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) must now have a facility to store up to six months worth of slurry.

NVZs are areas where surface water or groundwater is at risk of becoming polluted from nitrate found in slurry.

The storage must be used during "closed periods" when farmers must not spread slurry. The Environment Agency said the units must be in place by 1 January.

'Enforcement action'

Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations state that dairy and livestock farmers within a NVZ must be able to store five-months worth of slurry and pig and poultry farmers must store six months worth.

The Environment Agency said slurry with high levels of nitrate used during a "closed period" could "seriously damage the environment" as it could wash off farmland into water.

Phil Shere, from the agency, said he was aware not all farmers would have the required storage unit in place by 2012, but they would "look at the steps these farmers have taken towards becoming compliant when considering enforcement action".

"The more evidence a farmer can provide that they have taken steps to comply, the less likely we are to prosecute."

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