‘Ireland has to be very careful of its slurry spreading deadlines’

Ahead of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) review next year, Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture, Aidan O’Driscoll has said that Ireland has to be very careful of its slurry spreading deadlines.

Speaking to the Oireactas Joint Committee on Agriculture this week, he said that the review will determine the derogations that Ireland has going forward.

The NAP is reviewed every four years and O’Driscoll said that Ireland’s 7,000 derogations are essentially up for renewal.

However, in recent times O’Driscoll said that there has been a number of developments that give rise to some degree of concern with regards to our derogations.

The Danes have not had their derogation renewed. The Commission was not satisfied with the progress the Danes made on water quality.

“The Dutch were told that as part of their renewal, that they have to reduce cow numbers.

“On top of that, it is a fact that in recent days the EPA has issued a new water quality assessment, which indicates a slight decline (around 3%) in unpolluted waterways.

“Agriculture has been identified as responsible for some portion of it.”

In context of all of that, Ireland has to be very careful of our slurry spreading deadlines from a purely agriculture perspective, given what happened in other Member States, he said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General said that farmers who have animal welfare issues arising from the inability to spread slurry can contact the Nitrates Unit of the Department of Agriculture and it will look into it.

He said that the Department expects this issue to arise when animals are housed for the winter, more so than right now.

“Nevertheless, if issues arise that give rise to animal welfare problems, we can look at it on a case-by-case basis,” he said.