27 November 2012
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Due to ongoing wet weather, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has announced it will be working with farmers to address increasing issues around the spreading and storage of slurry.
Currently, the spreading of slurry or farm yard manure on waterlogged ground is a breach of environmental legislation, as run off pollutes local water courses. However, when conditions are consistently wet, and spreading activity is limited, this can create storage problems and possible animal welfare issues on farm steadings
Following the recent extreme wet weather, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has received evidence from the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), demonstrating the problems faced by land mangers and contractors as they try to manage slurry and apply it to land in line with legislation. The agency has developed a position statement and set of guidance for slurry spreading which only applies in emergency situations and exceptional circumstances, such as:
- where slurry stores are full to overflowing;
- where no other alternative route for spreading is available;
- where there are potential welfare issues such as livestock standing in slurry.
Stephen Field, Land Unit Manager for SEPA said:
"We are taking a pragmatic approach to the problems facing land mangers on an individual and site specific basis. We will agree to slurry spreading, under certain restrictions, to minimise any risk of environmental pollution. Anyone who is facing a problem with storage of agricultural materials should contact SEPA on 0800 807060. You will be put through to the appropriate SEPA office, who will work with you to ensure no environmental damage.
"During the last three years, over 130 land mangers contacted SEPA and Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspector Directorate (SGRPID) when ground conditions were unsuitable for spreading, advising us of their intention and need to spread slurry. By taking a site specific approach to each caller, none of these activities resulted in environmental pollution."
Farm waste is highly polluting in nature and needs to be managed carefully. Guidance and help on avoiding pollution from agricultural activities can be found on the SEPA website at www.sepa.org.uk/dpprioritycatchments. The General Binding Rules provide further information on how to reduce pollution from agricultural activities.
SEPA’s pragmatic approach applies to all areas of Scotland that do not fall within a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). Land managers farming within a NVZ, who face storage and/or spreading problems, should contact the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspection Division directly, to discuss any issues, before undertaking any spreading activity.