Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Questions (283)

Mattie McGrath


283. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to amend the regulations regarding slurry spreading to introduce greater flexibility as to when this practice is permitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14300/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017, as amended, give legal effect in Ireland to the Nitrates Directive and to our Nitrates Action Programme (NAP). The Nitrates Directive requires all member states to define set periods when the land application of fertiliser, including slurry, is not allowed and in Ireland the closed season commences on 15 October and closes on January 12 / 15th / 31st (depending on which part of the country a farm is located).

The closed periods in Ireland were decided following extensive consultation and were discussed with farming bodies and the European Commission when Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme was introduced. The provisions of the Regulations are underpinned by scientific research and good agricultural practice. The most recent scientific studies carried out on a diverse range of farm and soil types as part of Teagasc’s ongoing Agricultural Catchments Programme have provided further evidence in support of the efficacy of the prohibited spreading periods in reducing nutrient losses to waters.

While acknowledging the extreme weather conditions experienced throughout the country over the past year, including the sustained period of drought conditions last summer, I do not have any plans to make changes to the slurry spreading deadline. However, I will continue to keep this matter under review in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.