MEP for the Midlands North-West constituency, Colm Markey has said sustainable solutions could help address the concerns raised about the environmental impact of the poultry sector in Monaghan.
He has called for enhanced research to be carried out as a matter of urgency.
The MEP made the comments following recent meetings with the Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council Cllr. Aidan Campbell and other local representatives, following the publication of a Baseline Study Report on the Poultry Sector in the county.
Jobs in the poultry sector
The Fine Gael MEP said: “The sector supports thousands of jobs in the border counties and it’s crucial that these positions are protected.
“I fully understand the frustration being felt by councillors and poultry farmers in Monaghan at the moment, and I have been working with local representatives to find solutions.
“However, I do believe some of the recommendations contained in the report, commissioned by the council, could open up massive new opportunities and see Monaghan become a leader in sustainable poultry farming.”
Markey added that solutions around the managing of poultry litter, in particular, need to be explored further.
The report assesses the state of the poultry sector and the potential ongoing and future environmental impacts associated with the sector.
The purpose of the report is to inform Monaghan County Council as a stakeholder and regulatory body, of the regulation and sustainable development of the sector in the county.
The report is also used to inform the poultry sector and relevant industries of the future and development of the poultry sector in Co. Monaghan.
According to the report, the poultry sector is of significant economic importance in Co. Monaghan and has been a long-established industry in the county, which has continued to grow and expand corresponding to an increasing demand for poultry products, both nationally and internationally.
Since 2018, the number of licenced poultry facilities has increased from 76 to 101 and 118 planning applications for the development of sub-licence threshold poultry developments were submitted.
Guidance recently published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places a greater onus on the poultry sector to ensure that any proposed development within the sector does not have significant adverse impacts on Natura 2000 sites.
This guidance requires that the impact of ammonia and nitrogen emission on Natura 2000 sites are assessed and that all applications consider the cumulative effect of ammonia and nitrogen emissions up to 10km from the sites.
Ultimately, the report concluded that if the sector is to continue to expand and grow in Co. Monaghan, measures will need to be implemented to mitigate the impacts of ammonia and nitrogen emissions and to ensure sustainable management of poultry
MEP Markey said: “As part of my remit as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, I have been looking into the benefits of anaerobic digestion.
“I believe there is enormous potential for the poultry industry in Ireland to move away from land spreading to sustainable alternatives like renewable energy production.
“We need enhanced research to be carried out urgently to examine how to make this a reality and explore what financial supports might be available,” he added.
“We do not need to look far to see the results – the Stream BioEnergy Biogas Plant near Ballymena was the first of its kind in Europe to deal solely with poultry litter and has proved to be a huge success.
“There are practical and environmentally friendly solutions at hand that will not only offer certainty to the sector but enable it to grow further without restrictions,” Markey concluded.