PAO’S – NVZ AREAS
GUIDANCE FOR RPID AREA OFFICES
SPREADING OF SLURRY ON SNOW COVERED GROUND
Some Area offices have received telephone calls from farmers in NVZs advising that their
slurry tanks are full and that they need to spread on frozen or snow covered ground - an
offence under both the NVZ regulations and the Diffuse Pollution General Binding Rules
(DP GBRs). The DP GBRs apply Scotland-wide and are administered by SEPA. SEPA
offices have received similar calls from farmers outside NVZs.
This note gives guidance on dealing with these situations, and has been agreed with SEPA
colleagues. The guidance refers only to the current exceptional weather conditions and
should not be considered a precedent for future action.
Action to be taken
In the current exceptional weather conditions there is little option but to note that spreading
of slurry must take pace when slurry tanks are full and there is no other alternative source of
disposal. If contacted by a farmer or contractor regarding slurry applications to land the
following action should be taken:
• Within RPID, all requests outwith NVZs should be referred to the local SEPA
office for recording/processing.
• Within SEPA, all requests for spreading within an NVZ will be referred to the
local SGRPID Area office for recording/processing.
• The farmer or contractor must be advised that spreading on frozen or snow covered
ground is an offence under both the NVZ regulations and the DP GBRs.
• Alternative options to land application should be explored with the farmer – eg
transfer to a storage facility operated by a neighbour, or use of temporary storage
tanks/pits where these are available. However, in most cases it is expected that these
options will not be practical.
• Where farmers must spread in order to alleviate the pressure on their stores, the
following conditions should be followed:
i) The farmer must request the ability to spread in writing (this includes advice
by email or fax), although initial notification may be given by telephone with
written request to follow if there is imminent risk of stores overflowing.
ii) The purpose of the slurry application should not be to fully empty the stores.
The farmer must calculate the amount of slurry that needs to be removed from
his stores to provide on average 2 - 3 weeks capacity within his system. This
figure should be agreed with SEPA/ SGRPID
iii) Applications should only be made to land that is regarded as low risk. Care
should be taken to select fields that are flat or less than 5 % slope, not known
to be usually waterlogged at this time of the year, and have no watercourses or
ditches as boundaries.
iv) Any suitable field which has a water course as its boundary should not have
slurry applied within 30m of this watercourse. In this instance slurry
applications should be restricted to centre and area of the field furthest away
from the watercourse.
v) Farmers should do everything to minimise pollution; however, if pollution
arises they could be liable for prosecution.
vi) (RPID only) For farmers in NVZs – all applications should be recorded in
vii) (SEPA only) Farmers outwith NVZs will be required to produce and
implement a Farm Waste Management Plan which outlines their proposals,
timescale for implementation, and contingencies to prevent any such event
viii) Farmers in NVZs are already expected to provide 22 or 26 weeks storage
capacity, or make suitable alternative arrangements for disposal. Outwith
NVZ’s farmers will be expected to work with SEPA to address the insufficient
slurry storage capacity on the farm, through proposals for clean dirty water
separation, alternative treatment systems (Constructed Farm Wetlands),
additional slurry storage or other more radical solutions.
ix) A record must be kept of verbal notifications – description, time, date and
SEPA/RPID officer – with follow up if a written request is not forthcoming
within 5 days. Particular care should be taken to note the location of the farm,
to identify whether or not NVZ rules apply in addition to GBRs. All
authorisations – written and verbal – should be recorded on file and a
summary sheet kept recording all cases. The summary sheets will be collated
at a later date for further action by both RPID and SEPA
x) The attached letter giving advice to farmers should be issued as soon as
possible after a notification of spreading in an NVZ has been received.
xi) Where slurry spreading has been observed on the ground during routine
SGRPID work and not via a notification, obtain details of the location and
farm business. This should be passed to SEPA as the farmer is in breach of the
a) General Binding Rules
All cases of spreading on frozen or snow-covered ground in Scotland are breaches of the DP
GBRs. Any such breaches notified will be addressed by SEPA. Options will include
working with farmers as per item (viii) above using the Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry
and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (Scotland) Regulations 2003, warning letters, enforcement notices
or possible legal action in extreme cases..
b) NVZ Regulations
All cases of spreading on frozen or snow-covered ground within NVZs are breaches of the
NVZ regulations. In addition, some applications may take place on land that is subject to
closed period restrictions. Penalties will apply in every case.
There are two broad categories of NVZ livestock farmers – those with sufficient storage, and
those who have not. Earlier in 2009 some farmers will have registered the fact that they have
insufficient slurry storage capacity to comply with the new Action Programme regulations.
They will have been granted temporary exemption from the storage requirements under the
new regulations and/or limited permission to spread within the new closed periods. Farmers
who have not registered will be considered to have the necessary 22 or 26 weeks storage
capacity (dependent on farm type) that the regulations require.
Penalties involve enforcement notices under the NVZ Regulations, with possible legal action
in extreme cases, and also cross-compliance penalties due to a breach of SMR 4. However,
the exemption situation and the action taken by the farmer may influence the extent of any
penalty. The following situations could apply:-
a) Farmer spreads without contacting RPID.
In this situation an enforcement notice should be applied under the NVZ Regulations and a
penalty is likely to apply under cross-compliance rules. This will apply whether or not the
farmer has registered an exemption under the Action Programme regulations. The extent of
the penalty will be determined by assessment in accordance with the current penalty matrix,
but is likely to be in the order of 3%.
b) Farmer spreads after contacting RPID, but has not registered that he/she has insufficient
In these situations the farmer will be considered to have sufficient storage capacity and
therefore spreading is a clear breach of the regulations. Normal cross-compliance penalties
c) Farmer spreads after contacting RPID and has registered that he/she has insufficient
storage capacity. but fails to comply with conditions i) – vi) above.
Normal cross-compliance penalties will apply.
d) Farmer spreads after contacting RPID and has registered that he/she has insufficient
storage capacity and complies with conditions i) – vi) above.
In these situations a cross-compliance penalty of around 1-3% will apply, dependent on the
specific facts of the case and on the farmer spreading in compliance with conditions above..
A report on the case should be prepared and passed to HQ for consideration.