MEPs are set to examine the potential of abolishing Europe’s Daylight Savings Time (DST) – which could mark the end of clocks being put forward in spring and back in autumn.

This morning, the parliament voted in favour of carrying out an assessment of the current DST practice, where by clocks gain one hour from standard time in March, and lose one hour in late October.

The aim of the historic system is to make better use of natural daylight.

Irish MEPs have been particularly vocal on the issue with both Sean Kelly, leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, and Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness, first vice-president of the European Parliament, outlining the impact of DST on Irish people.

‘Biannual change is outdated’

MEP for Ireland South Sean Kelly explained the situation to AgriLand: “I’m the Irish member on a standing committee on the issue of the DST and, from the research carried out, the biannual change is outdated.

“The vote will enable the commission to change the directive to allow member states to consider it.

The Daylight Saving was brought in to save energy during World War I; but, today there is very little, if any, savings on energy.

“Society has changed dramatically since it was brought in, in areas such as street lighting, transport and so on.

“There are some very negative effects caused by the time changes – on both humans and animals.”

The MEP noted that the biannual change contributes to depression in humans – which, as AgriLand recently covered, can be a major problem for farmers in particular.

As well as this it can have a major impact on cows: Kelly noted that there can be a 10% reduction in milk yield, caused by the cows being out of kilter with the time changes and disruption in milking pattern.

As well as this, there are increased numbers of cows and animals killed crossing roads around the periods of the time changes, the MEP added.

The vote will make the commission open up the matter, the MEP said, adding: “It will take time but it is certainly a move in the right direction.”

Parliament vote welcomed

In the aftermath of the vote, which took place shortly before midday, Mairead McGuinness, MEP for Midlands North West, told AgriLand: “I welcome the decision of the parliament to ask for an assessment of the current situation by the commission in order to decide if change is necessary and beneficial.

“The public is very exercised by this debate and I received a significant amount of comment from citizens – with arguments in favour of keeping ‘Daylight Saving’ and abandoning it.

I hope the commission does its work rapidly and that we get clear information about the benefits or otherwise of the current regime. Change would have to be done at an EU level.

“The farmers who contacted me seemed to favour keeping the daylight saving arrangements,” the MEP noted.