What is the Nitrates Directive?
The Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) is designed to protect waters against nitrate pollution from agricultural sources. It requires European member states who do not opt for a whole territory approach to identify waters which are, or could become, polluted by nitrates. The member states are also required to designate as Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) all land that drains to those waters and which contributes, as a result, to nitrate pollution.
Member states are required to review their implementation of the Directive every four years and to make appropriate amendments to the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) and/or the measures outlined in the Action Programme.
The most recent review was undertaken in 2012 by our predecessors in the Environment Agency Wales. Information about NVZs in Wales was updated in January 2013. Currently, NVZs account for some 2.4% of land area in Wales.
Approximately 750 farm holdings are subject to pollution controls under the Nitrate Action Programme.
A fresh review of NVZ designations in Wales is currently underway.