Nitrate vulnerable zones: appeal a designation notice
How to appeal an NVZ notice if you believe your land doesn't drain to polluted water, or the water shouldn't be classed as polluted.
A nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) is an area of land that drains into polluted waters and contributes to the pollution of those waters.
When you can appeal
You’ll get a designation notice telling you that some or all of your land is in an NVZ. You can only appeal once you have received this notice.
You can appeal a designation notice if your holding was in an NVZ before or is in an NVZ for the first time.
When a designation notice might not apply
The designation notice might not apply to you if:
- you’re not the owner or occupier of the holding referred to in the notice
- the holding isn’t used for growing crops or rearing livestock for agricultural purposes
- the holding doesn’t appear to you to be in a proposed NVZ
If you think the designation notice may be wrong, call the Environment Agency helpline on 03708 506 506 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).
Check if you’re in an NVZ
If you want to appeal your designation notice you should check if your holding is partly or completely in an NVZ.
- Visit the Environment Agency’s What’s in your backyard tool that shows the proposed NVZs from 2017, and enter your postcode.
- Check if your fields are in the proposed NVZ and note the relevant NVZ IDs to quote in any appeal.
If you can’t or have difficulty checking online, please call the Environment Agency helpline on 03708 506 506 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).
How to appeal
You can only appeal an NVZ designation notice if you are the owner or occupier and believe that your land either:
- doesn’t drain to water that’s polluted
- drains into water that shouldn’t be classed as polluted
Water is classed as polluted if it is, or could be if the NVZ didn’t apply:
- a surface freshwater or groundwater which has a nitrate concentration of more than 50mg of nitrates per litre
- a water which is, or soon may become, eutrophic (meaning it’s rich in nutrients, supporting a dense plant or algae population)
Check your details set out in the designation notice and give evidence such as photos and maps of why you think the designation is wrong.
You must make sure your appeal reaches the FTT within 28 days of the date on your designation notice. Read the FTT’s Guide to Completing the Notice of Appeal to find out more about the appeals process, including late appeals.
What to send
Your appeal should include:
- your designation notice
- your NVZ cover sheet - you must include your grounds for appeal and the NVZ ID on the cover sheet
- your completed notice of appeal form
- a map of your land with your fields marked - you can print out maps from the What’s in your backyard tool
- any other evidence in support of your appeal
Other evidence to support your appeal
If you believe your land does not drain to a polluted water you can include:
- contour maps that show that your fields drain elsewhere
- photos of run-off water draining - these help the Environment Agency decide the direction of run-off (include field boundaries and relevant landmarks where possible)
- proof that water levels are managed artificially (for example by an internal drainage board) and that this affects assessment of drainage from your land
- geological or hydrogeological data showing there’s no groundwater recharge from your land
If you believe the water to which your land drains isn’t polluted you can include:
- details of any significant non-agricultural sources of nitrates not included in the Environment Agency’s evidence
- evidence that the monitoring data used is not representative of the water (be aware that the Environment Agency’s assessments have accounted for sewage discharges in your area)
- details of studies showing little or no agricultural contribution to the nitrate levels in the ‘polluted water’ that your land drains to
- an expert report
Where to send the notice of appeal form and supporting documents
Email the form to email@example.com or post it to:
General Regulatory Chamber
HM Courts and Tribunals Service
PO Box 9300
After you’ve submitted your appeal
When the tribunal receives your appeal they’ll send you an appeal case number.
You’ll need to quote this number whenever you contact the tribunal or the Environment Agency about this appeal.
Withdraw your appeal
You can withdraw your appeal at any time before an FTT judge makes a decision. You can withdraw your appeal by writing or emailing to the FTT, including:
- your appeal case number
- a statement that says “I withdraw my appeal”
The Courts and Tribunal Service will introduce fees in 2017.
Find out more about tribunal payments in the FTT’s Fee guidance notes for individuals.
Published: 30 December 2016
Updated: 4 January 2017
- Added "Anyone getting a designation notice, whether previously in an NVZ or for the first time, can appeal the notice."
- First published.