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Our designation of NVZs is in accordance with the requirements of the European Commission's Nitrates Directive 91/676/EEC, which aims to reduce water pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources. A copy of this Directive can be found on the Commission's website.

The Directive requires us to identify waters where nitrate levels exceed, or are likely to exceed, the levels set in the Directive. Any land draining to these waters must be designated as an NVZ and legally binding rules, known as Action Programmes, must be put in place.

The Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (Scotland) Regulations 2008 came into force on the 1st of January 2009.

These Regulations establish a revised action programme for the nitrate vulnerable zones in Scotland. They revoke the previous action programme (the Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (Scotland) Regulations 2003).

Overall, Regulation 4 requires the occupier of a farm to ensure that the provisions in regulations 5 to 24 are implemented for the parts of the farm that are within a nitrate vulnerable zone.

In particular, Regulation 5 requires a fertiliser and manure management plan to be prepared each year. Regulations 6 to 11 provide for storage of manure on the farm. Regulations 12 to 16 set limits and conditions for applying nitrogen fertiliser on the farm. Regulations 17 and 18 set conditions for applying chemical fertiliser and organic manure.

Regulations 19 to 22 set closed periods during which specified fertiliser or manure must not be applied on the farm land. Regulation 23 provides for a minimum period between applications of livestock manure. Regulation 24 restricts the use of high trajectory splash plates for the spreading of slurry, from 1 July 2009.

Regulations 25 and 26 provide for records to be kept and retained. Regulation 27 provides for inspections by the Scottish Government for the purpose of monitoring implementation. Regulation 28 provides for serving of notices by the Scottish Government where the requirements of the regulations have not been met and regulation 29 for a procedure to appeal against such notices.

Regulation 30 advises that breaches of regulations 4, 25, 27 and 28 are criminal offences