Regarding the impacts of ammonia emissions on vegetation, etc. the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) is the lead Department in this area. In this respect, I understand that the EPA has supported significant research into the effect of ammonia gas on vegetation, soil, habitats and species. Projects including AmmoniaN2K, Ammonia2 and MapEIre have focused on quantifying and assessing the impact of ammonia emissions from intensive pig and poultry units on Natura 2000 sites in Ireland. Research is ongoing in this area and an upcoming project will seek to build a more comprehensive understanding of the environmental burden (critical loads and critical levels) on the Natura 2000 sites.
As agriculture accounts for 99% of ammonia emissions, my Department’s focus has been on funding research on ammonia emissions through our competitively operated Stimulus research funding programme. Projects have, since 2012, focused primarily on obtaining accurate measurements of the levels of ammonia emitted from agricultural activities while also seeking to introduce measures designed to decrease ammonia loading to the atmosphere.
My Department is committed to working closely with DCCAE to ensure that ammonia emissions are reduced in a cost effective manner so that impacts on air quality and biodiversity are minimised. Given the extent of its contribution, I am acutely aware of the importance of reducing ammonia emissions from the agriculture sector. In this regard, I have recently concluded a consultation process and will shortly launch a code of good practice that will set out our measures to reduce ammonia emissions over the coming years.