Poole Harbour Catchment Area Update

Nitrate Leaching Tools submissions are due by 31 March 2023.
Farm being cultivated

We would like to remind members in the Poole Harbour catchment that the Environment Agency (EA) have asked for completed Nitrate Leaching Tools (NLT) to be sent to either themselves or the Poole Harbour Agricultural Group by 31 March 2023.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is under a High Court consent order to act to reduce nutrient pollution in Poole Harbour, among other protected sites. Currently they are trying to use a system of self-reporting and 'cap and trade' between farmers to allow some relative flexibility in the measures individual businesses can take. If this does not work, they will intervene more directly.

The more direct measure proposed both by Defra and by the organisations which took them to court is a 'Water Protection Zone' (WPZ). This is a legal power to restrict or outright ban certain activities in “any area if it is appropriate, with a view to preventing or controlling the entry of any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into controlled waters”. The power is very broad in its wording, and any WPZ rules put into place would almost certainly be stricter than the system currently proposed.

Therefore, we are advising members to engage with the EA and complete the tool. This will help by providing data to show that the current measures are enough and more rules are not needed.

The CLA has been working with the Poole Harbour Agricultural Group, a consortium of farm businesses approved by the EA to send their data as a single anonymised block rather than identifiable by farm. The Group is working on a trading scheme to allow those farmers less able to reduce their nitrate leaching to buy permits from those who fall within Government targets. You can read more about the Group at Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme.

Affected farmers should already have been contacted by the EA. If you have any questions about the situation at Poole Harbour, please contact Mark Burton at mark.burton@cla.org.uk or call 01249 700200 / 07557 284435.

Key contact:

Mark Burton
Mark Burton Rural Surveyor, CLA South West