Ireland secures Nitrates derogation

It was confirmed today that Ireland has secured a derogation under the Nitrates Directive after a vote took place at a meeting of the EU Nitrates Management Committee in Brussels.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney both welcomed the news.

Today’s announcement could not have been made until last week’s confirmation that Ireland’s 2nd Nitrate Action Programme has been concluded and a revised 3rd programme has been finalised.

The programme outlined last week will now be amended to reflect the terms of the derogation announced today. The vote will allow more intensive farmers to operate at a higher stocking rate than that stipulated in the directive, subject to adherence to stricter rules to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The derogation will run to the end of 2017, when the third programme concludes.

For farmers the decision will mean they will be allowed to exceed the limit of 170kg of organic nitrogen per hectare set down in the Nitrates Regulations, up to a maximum of 250kg per hectare, subject to adherence to stricter rules.

Commenting on the announcement Minister Hogan said: “The decision is a recognition by fellow EU member states that Ireland is maintaining a balanced commitment to ongoing improvements in water quality while also generating greater value from the agri-food sector. Both aims can be compatible and our successful implementation of the Nitrates regulations and the associated derogation over the first two action programmes has shown that.”

Minister Coveney added: “The renewal of the derogation for a further four years is great news for Ireland’s farmers as it allows them to plan ahead with certainty over the medium term.”