Following pressure from the NFU, Defra will finally open the application window for the 2021 nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) grassland derogation on Monday (14 December 2020) – a derogation that allows grassland claimants of rural payments in NVZs to apply 250kg of nitrogen per hectare through livestock manure on their holding over a calendar year rather than the usual limit of 170kg.
Throughout the delay, which is thought to have been caused by the pandemic, we have repeatedly highlighted the importance of the derogation to many of our members and urged Defra to put minds at rest by opening the window as soon as possible.
The window for application, which usually opens at the beginning of November, has a statutory closing date of 31 December 2020. The NFU is told that the Environment Agency will ‘use its best efforts’ to process applications received between 1 and 31 January 2021, though this will be done on a case-by-case basis at its discretion.
With the aim of avoiding delays or difficulties, Defra is advising applicants to contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) as soon as possible and before 31 December 2020 to guarantee their application is processed.
For more information on the derogation and how to apply, please see the Grassland derogations for livestock manure in nitrate vulnerable zones section on GOV.UK.