Information on the 2022 NVZ appeals process

07 January 2022

An image of a river running through farmland

Find out about the current NVZ appeals process and how we're supporting members.

The window for lodging an appeal against an NVZ designation has now closed for all parts of the country.

Along with our partners, Hafren Water & Associates, we are continuing to support members who lodged an appeal through the process.

If you have lodged an appeal but not yet spoken to us, please feel free to contact NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458 for advice.

Why were NVZ appeal letters issued?

Towards the end of 2020, the NFU was told there would be no changes to existing NVZ designations, but farmers with land inside the boundaries would still be given the chance to appeal in the new year.

After a lengthy delay, farmers who found themselves in a nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) from 2021 to 2024 were given an opportunity to appeal against the decision.

It had been four years since Defra reviewed the spatial coverage of NVZs in England. Defra had originally planned to issue the first batch of notification letters triggering the appeal process in early September. We lobbied and successfully secured a delay in the timing of these letters due to the uncertainty around Farming Rules for Water restrictions on spreading manures this autumn.

How we can help

Appeals to Defra can only be submitted if land does not drain into water identified as polluted or if land drains into water that should not be identified as polluted.

As with past appeal windows, we are working closely with Hafren Water & Associates to support members through the appeals process. We can offer general guidance on NVZ designations and how to appeal against incorrect designations. Hafren Water & Associates supported our members with appeals in previous reviews in 2012 and 2016. In 2016/17 it acted on behalf of 200 landholders in nearly 40 river and groundwater catchments achieving a high rate of successful outcomes and will be providing similar support during the current review.

NFU members subscribed to our Legal Assistance Scheme will receive financial support towards the cost of appeals undertaken by Hafren Water & Associates. You can also contact your regional environment adviser who will be forming groups at local levels to go through the appeal process, making the process easier, more manageable and cost effective. 

More information about the NFU Legal Assistance Scheme

The NFU Legal Assistance Scheme is a discretionary member benefit available to all NFU Farmer and Grower members for an additional cost of £35 plus VAT. The scheme provides professional guidance and financial contributions towards legal and other professional costs for members facing legal disputes relating to their farming and growing businesses.

More information about Hafren Water and Associates

Hafren Water and Associates, a specialist practice based in Shropshire, provides a range of advice, from supportive information to detailed appeals documentation and expert witness services. It has a thorough understanding of the NVZ designation methodology and significant experience in the appeal process.  It has previously supported NFU members (both individuals and groups) with their appeals during past NVZ reviews and will be doing the same this year.

Detailed guidance for NFU members

NFU members can download more information on NVZ designations and the appeals process below.

NVZ Water

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