Details unveiled for Ireland's 2nd NAP
Agreement has been reached with the EU Commission on the content of Ireland's 2nd National Action Programme (NAP) under the Nitrates Directive.
The Nitrates Directive was adopted by the European Union in 1991 and aims to reduce water pollution caused by nitrogen from agricultural sources and to prevent such pollution in the future.
The Directive seeks to establish a voluntary code of good agricultural practice to be followed by farmers and mandatory measures to tackle nitrate loss.
Ireland's new programme will run to the end of 2013. It will continue the work undertaken under the first NAP.
A comprehensive public consultation process on the proposed NAP revisions commenced in June this year and received submissions from farming organisations and environmental non-governmental organisations.
The Ministers set up an Expert Advisory Group to assist their Departments in taking forward the review process and in determining a common position on the measures which should be included in the 2nd NAP.
The 2nd NAP includes several new features. There will be a prohibition on the application of chemical fertiliser within two metres of a watercourse, an increase of half a metre.
New controls on baled silage will be brought in and a revision of dates when green cover is required.
There will be amendments to the maximum nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisation rates for cereal crops.
The current regime of closed periods for land-spreading is not being changed.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food minister, Brendan Smith, T.D said: "The overall package will, in this economically challenging climate, assist Ireland's agri-food sector meet its targets under the Food Harvest 2020 strategy on the basis of sustainable farming practices."
The proposed changes in the 2nd Action Programme will now go through a screening process initiated by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Alison Brown