Proposed measures to reduce ammonia emissions from farming

First published: 22 September 2022

An image of several dairy cows standing side by side drinking water from a trough

The government launched a consultation on potential new policies and measures to reduce ammonia emissions from farming. We have submitted our response – see what it says and follow the progress of this consultation.

22 September 2022

NFU submits response to draft NAPCP consultation

We have submitted our response to the government's consultation on the draft National Air Pollution Control Programme. 

Our response specifically covers the following questions:

Do you agree or disagree with the balance of measures across the 7 NAPCP packages as set
out in section 2.6.1 of the NAPCP document, for the abatement of Ammonia (NH3)?

We believe that there is a strong case for better addressing emissions from other sources through the NAPCP, particularly road transport. 

We highlight that emissions from livestock sectors have remained stable or fallen, and that emissions from fertiliser use have halved, yet data from other industries suggest that progress hasn't been as visible. 

Do you agree or disagree with the balance of measures across the 7 NAPCP packages as set
out in section 2.6.1 of the NAPCP document, for the abatement of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)?

Our response highlights concerns around the combustion measure set out in the draft NAPCP. We believe agricultural generators should be exempt from this measure and set out our reasoning for why.

After the publication of this NAPCP, UK government and devolved administrations will
continue to develop our policy measures and approaches. Please inform us of any further
measures you think we should consider to help achieve the UK ERCs most effectively.

In our response we urge Defra to work with us further to explore the potential of slurry acidification as a funded measure on certain farms.

NFU members can read our response in full. Download: NFU consultation response – draft National Air Pollution Control Programme

4 September 2022

Consultation closes

This consultation closed on 4 September 2022. 

25 July 2022

Government opens consultation

The government is consulting on an update to the NAPCP (National Air Pollution Control Programme).

Proposals

The NAPCP sets out potential policies and measures to reduce emissions of five key air pollutants, including ammonia.

Agriculture is said to account for the vast majority of ammonia emissions – around 87% in 2020 – and is, therefore, expected to make the greatest reductions.

In 2019, the Clean Air Strategy proposed a range of measures to reduce ammonia emissions from agriculture, including regulating urea fertilisers and permitting dairy and intensive beef farms.

Now, through the updated NAPCP, Defra is putting forward a range of additional steps that could be taken to reduce emissions further in each nation.

England

In England, a number of specific measures are proposed:

  • Low protein livestock diet (dairy and pig)
  • Washing dairy collection yards
  • Drying poultry litter
  • Manure sheeting covers
  • Poultry/pig acid scrubber
  • Cattle housing grooved floor system
  • Extending grazing period (dairy and beef)
  • Improved genetics (dairy, beef, pig and poultry)
  • Tree shelter belts around pig, poultry and dairy housing

Wales

In Wales, it is hoped that financial support through policies such as the Sustainable Farming Scheme will contribute to reducing emissions from 2025, incentivising specific measures like strategic tree planting.

NFU position

Ammonia emissions are a problem because the gas causes ecological damage when deposited to the ground and contributes to human health issues when converted into particulate matter – though this contribution is thought to be small.

The government has challenging, legally binding targets for reducing ammonia emissions. It needs to have cut emissions by 8% by 2020 and 16% by 2030, both against a 2005 baseline. The 2020 target has, provisionally, been missed – albeit only slightly – and Defra now looks to be stepping up its efforts.

While the NAPCP will not set these measures in stone – and there would be further consultation on any taken forward – we will be submitting a full and robust response to the consultation. We are also encouraging members to do the same.

Have your say

Respond directly to Defra: You can find out more and have your say in an online survey at the GOV.UK website: Consultation on the draft National Air Pollution Control Programme

The consultation will close on 4 September 2022.

Contribute to the NFU response: If you would like to contribute to the NFU's official response to the consultation, please email your views to [email protected] by 26 August 2022.

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Summary

25 July 2022: Government opens consultation on update to the NAPCP (National Air Pollution Control Programme).

28 July 2022: NFU publishes information for members and invites them to feed into NFU's official consultation response. 

22 September 2022: We publish our response to the consultation, which closed on 4 September.