Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (141)

Michael Ring

Question:

221 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason the agreement reached with the IFA on the nitrates directive action programme has been broken. [6670/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture and Food)

The implementation of the nitrates directive is in the first instance a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Under Sustaining Progress, it was agreed that the Government would engage with the main farming organisations and other interests on the development of the detailed provisions of the action programme for implementation of the nitrates directive. It was further agreed that in the context of the regime to be adopted to transpose the provisions of the directive, the Government would also use the flexibility in the directive to seek to secure European Commission approval for limits of up to 250 kg. of organic nitrogen per hectare per annum to be allowable in appropriate circumstances.

A draft action programme, prepared by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in conjunction with my Department and in consultation with Teagasc, was presented in December last to representatives of the main farming organisations and other stakeholders. This draft programme included provision for limits of up to 250 kg. of organic nitrogen per hectare per annum to be allowable in appropriate circumstances, and was therefore fully in accordance with the Sustaining Progress agreement.

Written submissions on the draft action programme have been received from some 70 stakeholders, including the IFA. I will give consideration to the issues raised in the submissions in consultation with my colleague, the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government, having regard to the need to finalise the terms of the action programme at an early date and submit definitive proposals to the European Commission. The draft action programme was also discussed at a meeting between officials and the farming pillar under Sustaining Progress at which the IFA was represented.