The Environmental Protection Agency has identified agriculture as being responsible for some of the recently revealed 3% decline in unpolluted waterways.

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Secretary General Aidan O’Driscoll has indicated this is one of the reasons it will look at leeway on slurry spreading deadlines only on a farm-by-farm basis. 

“The situation on slurry spreading here is pretty tricky,” he told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine last week.

“If individual farmers have specific difficulties, particularly of an animal welfare nature arising from their inability to spread slurry, they can contact the nitrates unit of the Department and we will look into it.”

He said a number of developments give rise to concern, ahead of Ireland’s new nitrates action programme, to be introduced next year, with Ireland’s 7,000 nitrates derogations up for renewal.

“The Danes have not had their derogation renewed because the Commission was not satisfied with the progress they had made on water quality. The Dutch have been told they have to reduce cow numbers as part of their renewal.”

“We have some of the cleanest water in Europe, so it needs to be understood that we are starting from a very good base. Nevertheless, there has been some decline in water quality.”

“In the context of all of that, we have to be very careful about slurry spreading deadlines.”


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