Difficult weather for farmers draws hope from Holyrood

THE DIFFICULTIES FACING many farmers in Moray and throughout the north east brought about by an unusually wet period has drawn some sympathy from the Scottish Government.

Last night Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson welcomed an announcement that the government will ‘look sympathetically’ at cases where the weather has stopped many farmers from spreading their slurry in time to comply with Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) regulations.

Almost all of Mr Stevenson constituency – which includes parts of Moray – is included in the NVZ area.

The MSP said: “I’m aware that the weather experienced in recent weeks and months has proved problematic for farmers which has meant that slurry tanks may not have been emptied in time to comply with the closed period owing to a range of pressures.

“As we enter the period where no slurry spreading is permitted in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, I am pleased that the Minister has listened to industry concerns and has instructed officials to respond to genuine cases of difficulty with as much flexibility as possible.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “While a blanket derogation from the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (Scotland) provisions cannot be applied due to EC regulatory requirements, relevant RPID area offices will liaise with affected farmers on a case by case basis to help them explore all practical options, which might be available to address current difficulties.

“RPID will look sympathetically, with as much flexibility as the regulations allow, at the scope for any mitigation of the risk of penalties being applied.

“Affected farmers are strongly encouraged to make urgent contact with their area office to discuss the best way to proceed that helps address their difficulties, minimises the impact on the environment and the risk of penalties applying.”