A proposal from the European Commission to extend the requirement for environmental permits to larger cattle (including dairy) farming would also allow granted permits to be viewed by the public online.

As reported by Agriland on Saturday (April 2), the commission’s review of the Industrial Emissions Directive, due to be published this week, also recommends increasing the number of pig and poultry farms (some of which already require permits) that would be subject to permits by decreasing the threshold of livestock units (LUs) at which these permits are required.

It should be noted, however, that this proposal from the commission is a long way off becoming a regulation and is in the very early stages. It may undergo significant alterations before being enacted, which in any event may be several years away.

Notwithstanding that, the proposal will cause disquiet to farmers with larger operations as to the commission’s intentions towards more intensive agriculture.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has already slammed the proposal, saying is it “completely over the top”.

“It’s outrageous to be including livestock grazing in fields within the scope of this directive, as well as drastically cutting the limits on the pig and poultry sectors,” IFA Tim Cullinan said.

As well as increasing the number of farms and farm types that may require permits, the proposed changes to the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) contain other plans which will also give pause for thought.

Among these is a planned requirement for all EU member states to ensure that permits for ‘agro-industrial installations’ (which farms are defined as in the review) that are granted under the directive are made available to the public on the internet, free of charge and without restricting access.

The leaked document goes on to say: “Where the breach of the permit conditions continues posing or risking to cause a danger to human health or a significant adverse effect upon the environment; and where the relevant findings of [an] inspection report…aimed at restoring compliance have not been implemented, the operation of the installation…may be suspended by the competent authority until compliance is restored.”

It also stipulates that the permits be granted “further to consultation of all relevant authorities who ensure compliance with EU environmental legislation, including, where applicable, with environmental quality standards.”

This would open up the possibility that, in the event that these proposals are eventually adopted, statutory bodies with environmental oversight may have a say in whether or not permits are granted.