Ireland ploughs ahead on farming directive

Ireland has highlighted its willingness to comply with environmental legislation from Brussels by stepping up efforts to control nitrate pollution.

Dublin has now resubmitted its formal Nitrates Action Plan to the EU Commission, which will outline steps it plans to take to reduce water pollution stemming from nitrates used in farming.

The emphasis will be on the management of manure and other nitrate-heavy fertilizers and will cover issues such as how they are stored, when and where they are applied and in what quantity.

Ireland’s original action plan was rejected by the Commission last October, which claimed it was inadequate and in need of strengthening in some key areas.

“The formal submission of our Action Programme is an important landmark in Ireland’s continuing efforts to secure compliance with our obligations under EU law,” said Environment Minister Dick Roche.

“More than that, it also marks an important step forward in our efforts to protect water quality in Ireland.”

“The current revised action programme,” the Minister said, “responds to the concerns expressed by the Commission and incorporates appropriate revisions to the programme sent in October 2004.

“The main farming organisations have been informed by me of the main amendments the EU Commission considered necessary.

“I have however continued to press for further revisions in the form of reducing the compliance burden wherever appropriate, especially for small-scale farmers.

“I am satisfied that the action programme represents best practice in relation to managing agricultural activities so that they do not pose a risk to water quality.”

He said government officials were now in the process of drawing up regulation which would make the measures outlined in the action programme legally binding and a draft of the regulations would soon be released for public consultation.

The National Nitrates Action Programme is available on the department’s website.

By Sam Bond

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