Farmers found to breach slurry spreading deadline could face a hefty fine

Farmers who are found to have breached the slurry spreading deadline, in extreme circumstances, could face up to three months in prison or a fine of up to €500,000, according to the Department of Housing and Local Government.

The closed period for slurry spreading came into effect on October 15 and no extension to this date or individual exemptions to spread slurry were granted, the Department said.

Section 26 (in Part 5) of the Nitrates Regulations outlines the offences and contraventions provisions as follows;

Persons who contravene a provision of Parts 2 to 5 and schedule 5 of the regulations excluding Article 17(5), (6), (10) and (12) can be liable:

  • On summary conviction to a Class A fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or both or,
  • On conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

The Department advises that it is also important to bear in mind that when a Local Authority does an inspection and identifies significant breaches of the regulations, they are obligated to report their findings to the Cross Compliance Unit of the Department of Agriculture.

There is a significant amount of anger amongst farmers in parts of the country, many of whom have made it clear to Agriland, on the issue as confusion still appears to reign in relation to slurry spreading.

Meanwhile, the Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Kenny, has said that Ministers Michael Creed and Simon Coveney, are failing to sort out any solution to the problem facing farmers who could not get their slurry out due to wet weather and now need to empty the tank.

Minister Creed told me and other TDs last week, that if farmers needed to get the permission to spread slurry they could ring the animal welfare emergency number and it would be swiftly dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

“However this is not working as the animal welfare section of the department is shifting the responsibility to the nitrates section and then they are shifting it to the department of environment.

“It is all being bogged down in procedure. It is while the weather is fine and land is reasonably dry, that the slurry must be spread and delays in getting permission is adding to the problem.

“The two ministers are failing to sort out any solution to this issue.” He said that there is no common sense being applied to the whole situation.

On the issue of inspections, Kenny said that as he understands it, should a Local Authority report a breach of the regulations to the Cross Compliance Unit at the Department, then that farmer could become a priority for an inspection.