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NFU pushes back government over ‘ridiculous’ slurry storage proposals

A typical Orkney farm, with the familiar sight of a slurry tank holding the winters slurry. (Orkney Photographic)

Members of NFU Scotland have lodged “serious” concerns over “ridiculous” new proposals from the Scottish Government, that would see slurry and silage buildings across Orkney updated or replaced.

The Scottish Government consultation paper — published in January this year — concerns river basin management, and aims to prevent potential water pollution from silage and slurry effluent from within storage facilities.

A key part of the plans is to change building regulations, meaning that all storage structures built prior to 1991 would now have to meet modern building requirements.

However, the National Famers Union’s (NFU) branch secretary, Nicola Tait, says the proposals are “ridiculous,” and would have “serious implications” for Orkney farmers from the financial to the logistical. The reason being that the many farm structures in Orkney are pre-1991 builds, and Ms Tait says that the “vast majority” of these would fail modern standards.

She also said: “As far as we’re aware, there’s no impact on water quality, due to the storage facilities at the moment, so that’s why it makes the proposals even more ridiculous.”

In response, the NFU has launched a survey across Scotland, asking for farmers to provide information on their farm structures, in order to gauge the true scale of those who may be affected.

Ms Tait said: “Then we can go back to the Scottish Government, and try and quantify the impact the proposals will have, because at the moment they don’t have an understanding at all.

Around 130 Orkney folk responded to the NFU survey within the first 24 hours of its launch, which Ms Tait says is “absolutely brilliant,” and reveals just how big of an issue it is for farmers in Orkney. She also confirmed that some farmers in Orkney have even agreed to be case studies for the NFU.

The survey, that was live online until Monday, April 5, has since ended.