Inspections get underway

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The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) recently began routine inspections for the environmental aspects of cross-compliance. Approximately 340 of Basic Payment Scheme claimants in Northern Ireland will receive inspections from the NIEA during 2015.

Inspections over the last few years identified a range of non-compliance issues with the main reasons for breaches being, leaks from storage facilities and leaching into watercourses. Farmers and landlords should make themselves aware of the details and requirements of cross compliance but in particular the Nitrates Action Programme 2015-2018 and Phosphorus Regulations.

During inspections this year, NIEA can request farm records from any year from 2010 to 2014 (2014 records 
can only be assessed after 30 June 2014) to partly assess farm compliance with the Nitrates and Phosphorus Regulations.

Farmers and landlords should make sure their nitrates and phosphorous records are complete so that they are prepared for a farm inspection if selected. Most of these records are already available on farm and keeping organised records will help avoid a breach of the regulations.

For comprehensive guidance on the Nitrates and Phosphorus Regulations the most recent booklet, ‘Nitrates Action Programme 2015-2018 and Phosphorus Regulations’ is available on the DARD website or through any of the DARD regional offices.

The table (right) shows, for a typical farm, the records required and the recommended sources of the information.

The records are used to assess compliance with the various limits set out in the Nitrates and Phosphorus Regulations.

Farmers should ensure that they are aware and can comply with the limits as failure to do so will lead to a breach of cross compliance which may result in a SFP penalty.

Farmers should also make themselves aware that records relating to the export of organic manure must be submitted annually to NIEA by 31st January of the following year.

If you are a UFU member you can contact Union Headquarters or your UFU Technical Officer for advice on how to prepare for an inspection.