Since 1985 a number of actions plans has been implemented in Denmark to reduce nitrate leaching. The regulatory measures applied include nutrient-related measures e.g. mandatory fertilizer plans and improved utilization of nitrogen in manure as well as area-related measures such as e.g. wetlands and afforestation.
In 1987 the Danish parliament agreed on the first Action Plan for the Aquatic Environment I and in 1998 on the APAE II, which was recognised as the implementation of the Nitrates Directive as announced by the Commission in November 1998.
The final evaluation of the APAE II in December 2003 showed that the measures already implemented in addition to the measures already agreed upon and financed would result in a reduction of the total nitrogen discharges from agriculture of around 149,000 tonnes N per year. This corresponds to a reduction of around 48% of the calculated 311,000 tonnes N in 1985.
The following APAE III was submitted as the next Nitrate Action Programme and did run from 2004-2015 with planned midterm evaluations in 2008 and 2011 following article 5 in the Nitrates Directive. The APAE III encompasses broad efforts to reduce agricultural impacts on the aquatic environment and nature, and includes a stronger focus on surplus phosphor in agriculture, which must be halved, compared to 37,700 tonnes P in 2001/2002, with 2015 as the target year. For nitrogen the aim was to reduce leaching from agriculture by a minimum of 13% by 2015 compared to 2003.
The APAE III consisted of:
In 2008 the APAE III was midterm evaluated both on the results, adequacy of tools and economic aspects to ensure that activities and expected results are achieved. The midterm evaluation did not show any significant decrease in the nitrate leaching during 2003-2007 and the conclusions were that the implementation of measures and their effect have not been as anticipated.
In 2009 the Danish government launched the Green Growth Agreement – a plan that ensures better conditions for the nature and environment while allowing agriculture to develop. The Green Growth Agreement also deals with the problems formerly encountered in achieving expected goals in the APAE III. As the Green Growth Agreement is much broader than the APAEs, a Danish Nitrate Actions Programme is composed specifying the elements of the implementation of the Nitrates Directive.