Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (530)

Michael Moynihan


530. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the review of the nitrates derogation will give full recognition of the carbon sinks from forests, permanent pastures and hedgerows; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27863/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Nitrates Derogation (S.I. No. 65/2018) gives effect to the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters - Amendment) Regulations 2018. This regulation provides Ireland’s nitrates derogation farmers an opportunity to farm at higher stocking rates, above 170 kg livestock manure nitrogen/ ha, subject to additional conditions designed to protect the environment. The derogation is an important facility for more intensive farmers and almost 7,000 intensively stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2018.

The purpose of the review of the nitrates derogation was to examine further opportunities for derogation farmers to improve efficiencies and continue to reduce their environmental footprint with particular regard to water, climate and air quality. As part of this review, a public consultation was held and 75 submissions were received.

The Nitrates expert group which is composed of officials from the EPA, Teagasc, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and DAFM is currently considering these submissions. The Nitrates expert group acknowledge that carbon sinks are recognised under the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) EU Regulation which covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from human-induced land use and will consider measures which support both climate and environmental challenges.

Recommendations for measures will be submitted by the group within the coming months.