NFU Cymru is to launch a legal challenge against Welsh Government’s new rules to control agricultural pollution, having previously raised concerns about the lawfulness of the decision.

The new water quality regulations came into force across Wales on April 1.

Union chiefs insist the new regulations pose a significant threat to the economic viability of Welsh farming with the whole of Wales classed as an environmental ‘at risk’ zone.

NFU Cymru President, John Davies said: “NFU Cymru, is fully committed to looking after the environment. Our position however, remains unchanged as these regulations are not an effective way to achieve that.

"We have put forward to Welsh Government farmer-led voluntary initiatives, which have worked in the past, supplemented by targeted and proportionate regulation, and yet Welsh Government has failed to take into account any relevant information and feedback from stakeholders."

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“As a union we accept a regulatory backstop may be needed, but this must take in to account the regulation that is already operational and it must be evidence based, proportionate to the risk, and targeted to areas where water quality improvements are needed.

Mr Davies, who says the NVZ designation is "indiscriminate and punitive" said he is disappointed by the lack of support offered to farmers in order to be able to comply with these regulations.

"Welsh farmers face having to find up-front costs of £360 million and ongoing yearly costs of £14 million a year, which will put many small, family farms out of business.

"The package of support to farmers to help make these drastic changes is woefully inadequate. It will affect every sector; every area of Wales and every farmer will be subject to draconian record keeping and complex restrictions on the day-to-day running of their businesses for environmental benefits that appear to be quite small.

“This is why, along with our lawyers, legal panel firm JCP Solicitors and with support from our Legal Assistance Scheme, we have decided to ask the courts of law to look at these regulations, and to determine if they are reasonable or not.”