Wildlife Trusts demand return to N licensing in Wales

The scrapping of a proposed licensing scheme to regulate the spreading of livestock slurry in Wales has been described by a wildlife charity as a “significant backward step” for nature recovery.

In October, the Welsh government said it would allow livestock farmers to continue spreading organic manures on land at the higher rate of 250kg/ha of nitrogen (N) a year until 2025, where there is a crop need and subject to certain extra environmental protection conditions.

It had initially proposed that farmers who needed to operate above the basic 170kg/ha N annual holding limit would have to apply for a licence.

See also: Welsh farmers welcome plan to allow higher manure applications

Wildlife Trusts Wales is calling for that proposal to be “urgently reinstated”.

It said the new voluntary approach of self-reporting how much manure was applied to fields would “perpetuate the catastrophic consequences of farm run-off for Welsh rivers”.

The charity’s director, Rachel Sharp, said urgent action was needed to stop farm pollution reaching bodies of water.

“The Welsh government must strengthen, not weaken, laws that prevent spreading excess slurry on the land,” she insisted.

“Its new announcement seriously weakens the regulations and is a significant backward step in nature’s recovery across Wales. We need this retrograde decision to be reversed as soon as possible.”

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said evidence had shown that an increase to a 250kg/ha N annual holding limit could be justified and would not damage the environment.

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