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Pollution by nitrates from agricultural sources

Another directive which requires mentioning in this context is Directive 91/676/ EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources.51 It aims specifically at reducing water pollution caused or induced by nitrates from agricultural sources and at preventing further such pollution. The Member States shall identify waters affected by pollution and waters which could be affected by pollution if certain action is not taken. They must designate as vulnerable zones all known areas of land in their territories which drain into the waters thus identified and which contribute to pollution. Action programmes shall be established for these zones, which must include rules on periods when the land application of certain types of fertiliser is prohibited; the capacity of storage vessels for livestock manure; and limitation of the land application of fertilisers.52 If it becomes apparent that these measures will not be sufficient, Member States also must, in the framework of the action programmes, take such additional measures or reinforced actions as they consider necessary. According to the Court of Justice, such additional measures must be taken when the Member State first observes a need for them.53

All waters are also to be provided a general level of protection against pollution through the establishment of a voluntary code of good agricultural practice and, where necessary, by the setting up of a programme promoting the application of the code.

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