Should you keep your distance from houses when spreading slurry?

Whether or not a minimum distance must be maintained in relation to the boundary of houses when farmers or agricultural contractors are spreading slurry was raised recently in a parliamentary question.

Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath Peter Burke called on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, to clarify the matter this week.

In response, the minister explained that: “The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 gives legal effect in Ireland to the Nitrates Directive and to our Nitrates Action Programme (NAP). The regulations focus, inter alia, on the management of livestock manures and other fertilisers.

“In accordance with the requirements of these regulations, all fertilisers should be stored and managed in a responsible manner to ensure the protection of water quality.

The regulations do not specify distances in relation to spreading fertiliser in proximity to dwellings.

“In order to protect water quality, however, they do include provisions regarding the required distances for spreading organic fertiliser from a surface watercourse, a borehole and a spring or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption.

“Local authorities, under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are the authorities charged with the monitoring and enforcement of these regulations,” Minister Murphy said.

A detailed breakdown of the distances that must be adhered to in relation to watercourses is available on the Department of Agriculture’s website.

Nitrates Derogation

Earlier this month, Ireland was formally granted a derogation under the Nitrates Directive following the receipt of legal approval from the EU Commission.

A joint announcement by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, confirmed the news.

Minister Creed said: “The renewal of the derogation for a further four years is great news for Ireland’s farmers, as it allows them to plan ahead with certainty over the medium term.

“All farmers have an important role to play in protecting our environment – particularly those farming intensively.”