EU Exit Q&As - Agricultural Regulation

Questions and answers related to EU Exit and Agricultural Regulation.

I have additional stock on my farm due to end of transition issues and my slurry tanks are about to overflow what should I do?

You should use the following hierarchy of options to deal with the situation (1 is the most favourable and 3 is the least favourable):

  1. Store the slurry at the place of production in other tanks in accordance with NAP requirements;
  2. Store slurry in tanks off site in accordance with NAP requirements;
  3. Apply slurry to land using a risk based approach.

What do you mean by a risk based approach?

If slurry is to be spread, the appropriate person must ensure that it is spread on low risk land.  Low risk land takes into account:

  1. Proximity to a watercourse, recent rainfall, slope, soil Phosphorus Index, flood risk, land classification and groundwater vulnerability
  2. Land application must be carried out responsibly by the appropriate person or their agent in line with current spreading guidelines under NAP
  3. Evidence of steps taken to protect watercourses should be recorded
  4. During the closed spreading period, slurry tanks must not be totally emptied.  Only enough slurry should be removed to provide storage for immediate needs to prevent animal welfare issues. 
  5. All decisions made must be supported by retained evidence to show that no other option was available and that the cause was related to the end of transition period.  Any application to land must be supported by evidence to show that all of the risk criteria had been considered.
  6.  Please note that designated nature conservation sites and priority habitats can be negatively impacted by additional nutrient loading or increased ammonia emissions. Care should also be taken to protect and avoid adverse impacts to these sites. This would include avoiding spreading on or adjacent to designated sites and priority habitats.

Will my single farm payment be impacted by spreading in the closed period?

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) cannot authorise a ‘reasonable excuse’. NIEA are required to carry out an inspection on every farm it is aware of that is suspected of breaching a Verifiable Standard as set out in The Nutrient Action Programme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019). During these inspections the

appropriate person must be able to demonstrate that they had taken all reasonable precautions and provide documented evidence to show that they had no other option but to take this action. In the absence of such evidence, appropriate enforcement action will be taken in accordance with Inspector’s Guidance and NIEA prosecution policy.

Will the legislation regarding the protection of rivers and lakes change after the end of transition?

No the legislation in place on 31 December 2020 will continue to exist after the end of transition.

Will the legislation relating to the Nutrient Action Programme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019) change after the end of transition?

No the legislation will remain unaltered.

What other information is available from NIEA on this topic?

RPS Spreading of Organic Manures and Milk post end of transition.

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