Results of a freedom of information request have cast further doubt on the Welsh Government's NVZ proposals.

Information obtained by NFU Cymru from Natural Resources Wales suggests

new water rules may have the ‘perverse outcome’ of making water quality worse.

The official advice from the regulator, obtained as part of the FOI request also said NRW did not have enough resources to implement the new rules if they applied to all farm businesses across Wales.

The revelation has added to the union’s growing concerns that a decision on Welsh Government’s all-Wales nitrate vulnerable zone proposals is being taken without a comprehensive understanding of costs and impacts.

The union says NRW – Welsh Government’s principal adviser on issues relating to the environment and its natural resources – identified multiple shortcomings in the draft the regulatory impact assessment, concluding that it did not fully follow Welsh Government’s own guidance for RIAs, leaving it open to challenge from a number of stakeholders.

NRW identified that the draft RIA did not follow its own guidance in terms of comprehensive presentation of options or how they are assessed.

NRW also questioned how proportionate the proposed measures were in areas where low nitrate concentrations are found.

NFU Cymru deputy president Aled Jones said: “NFU Cymru has repeatedly expressed concerns that the proposals for the introduction of regulatory measures to address agricultural pollution have been developed without a thorough understanding of costs and impacts.

"NFU Cymru has consistently demonstrated commitment to safeguarding and improving water quality through our contribution to the Welsh land management forum and its agri pollution sub-group.

"We firmly believe that the recommendations published within the sub-group’s Tackling Agricultural Pollution report of April 2018 provide the blueprint for a way forward.

"The report highlights the way forward as a programme of education, voluntary initiatives, incentives, investment and innovation underpinned by smart regulation and additional resources and monitoring.

"This approach will deliver improvements in water quality, where they are needed, at the same time as supporting NFU Cymru’s ambition for sustainable growth of the Welsh food and farming industry.

“Proposed new regulations will impact on every farm, every sector and every area of Wales. A comprehensive impact assessment must consider the impact of an all-Wales NVZ on farm viability, the capacity of farm businesses to afford the cost of new regulations and continue trading, as well as the impact of proposed NVZ regulations on employment – both direct and indirect – on Welsh farms, the allied industry and wider supply chain.”