The European Commission’s proposal to update the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) will do little to address environmental challenges, according to an Irish MEP.

The commission published the set of proposals yesterday (Tuesday, April 5) which, if adopted by the EU institutions, will see farms with over 100 cattle requiring a permit to operate.

Such permits already apply to large pig and poultry operations. The new proposals would see the number of pig and poultry farms requiring permits significantly increased.

The commission says that the new rules will “cover more relevant sources of emissions, make permitting more effective, reduce administrative costs, increase transparency, and give more support to breakthrough technologies and other innovative approaches”.


However, Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey does not believe that the proposals will have the desired environmental impact.

Markey, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, said the thresholds are far too low and the timing is all wrong.

“Despite promising a lighter permitting regime for farms, I remain unconvinced. It seems the commission’s solution to our environmental challenge is even more bureaucracy,” he said.

“The Industrial Emissions Directive is aimed at industrial style agriculture such as large-scale pig and poultry units but these changes mean that a typical dairy farm will also have similar requirements.

“This is a bureaucratic and financial nightmare for thousands of farmers who will have to pay out €2,400 every year for a permit.

“With a wait time for licenses in Ireland currently at nine months and environmental inspections taking place every one to three years, I question whether we even have the capacity to deliver what the EU requires,” the Midlands North-West MEP continued.

The commission says the new rules will increase transparency and public participation in the permitting process.

An industrial emission portal will be established where EU citizens will be able to access data on permits issued anywhere in Europe.

“This puts individual farmers under public scrutiny which – in my view – is an invasion of the privacy of an ordinary person running a small business. It will also lead to serial objectors trying to frustrate the process, as we have seen with forestry felling licenses,” Markey stated.

“Farmers want to be part of the climate solution and are playing their part by meeting the objectives set out in a range of national and EU policies including the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Nitrates Directive and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“This directive ignores their willingness to engage and will only cause more dismay during an already difficult time for the sector.

“At a time when farmers are facing massive hikes in the cost of fuel, fertiliser and feed, the timing of this proposal is ill-judged,” the Irish MEP concluded.