NFU granted judicial review against water quality rules

NFU Cymru has been granted permission for a judicial review against the Welsh government over new rules aimed at protecting water quality from the effects of agriculture.

The new regulations, which came into force on 1 April, would restrict farmers from spreading slurry and fertilisers on their land between mid-October to February, in a bid to prevent rainfall sending it into waterways.

They have been controversial among agricultural groups and landowners, who argue the rules are “disproportionate” and would “undermine the viability of many Welsh farms”.

Landowners argue that it would cost a great deal to upgrade slurry stores to be compliant with the rules and the NFU has argued that “these regulations effectively make the whole of Wales an environmental ‘at risk’ zone, attracting heavy and disproportionate regulations which will punish the whole farming sector”.

The farmers union announced this week that its application for permission to judicially review the Welsh government’s decision to introduce water quality regulations had been granted by the High Court.

NFU Cymru argues that the Welsh government has acted unlawfully in “failing to take into account all relevant information” when undertaking its regulatory impact assessment prior to the introduction of the regulations. 

The union is also challenging the Welsh government’s failure to include in the regulations a derogation from the applicable nitrogen limit for farmers with 80% or more grassland.

NFU Cymru president, John Davies, said: “We are pleased to hear that the court has accepted our application for permission for judicial review and that the issues we have raised amount to arguable grounds which merit consideration at a substantive hearing.”

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