By Debbie James

The impact on Welsh farm businesses of government plans to roll out nitrate controls across Wales next year is to be investigated following a legal challenge by a farming union.

Solicitors acting on behalf of NFU Cymru challenged the Welsh Government on its plan for new pollution control measures amid concerns that they closely mirror nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) requirements, despite an earlier assurance from the government that it would adopt the “right balance of regulatory measures, voluntary initiatives and investment.’’

Following discussions between the government and the union’s lawyers, rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths has now agreed to authorise an ADAS-led regulatory impact assessment (RIA) to consider the impact of the regulations on farmers.

In a letter to its members, the union said the requirements of the new regulations were a matter of “deep concern’’.

“In particular, the cost and complexity of the measures that farmers will be asked to comply with are worrying,’’ it stated.

“We have further concerns over the introduction of these regulations in the context of Brexit uncertainties over future trade, future policies and access to capital support investment.’’

Although the union welcomed the government’s announcement, it was concerned that the cost and complexity of the regulations would vastly outweigh benefits to water quality.

“We will continue to raise these matters with the minister and her officials,’’ it said.

The union said it had dedicated significant time and resource to developing a farmer-led voluntary initiative to deliver on water quality requirements and would now work to put its own evidence before the minister.