The Local Authorities are the designated competent authorities for the purposes of the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water) Regulations (SI No. 101 of 2009). However, I have agreed that inspections to meet the requirements of the Nitrates Regulations will be undertaken by my Department. My objective is to ensure that the duplication of on-farm inspections is avoided for practical reasons, to minimise costs and to simplify the inspection arrangements from the farmer's perspective.
It is envisaged that my Department will carry out inspections on behalf of the Local Authorities. Detailed arrangements, including criteria for farm selection, inspection protocol and cross reporting will be agreed between both Departments, in consultation with the Local Authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency. Inspections to be carried out as part of this new arrangement will be in addition to the existing inspections carried out by my Department.
Discussions are ongoing between officials of my Department, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and representatives of the Local Authorities to finalise arrangements in relation to these matters. It must be emphasised however that Local Authorities remain the designated competent authorities for the purposes of the Nitrates Regulations. As such, Local Authorities retain duties and powers to investigate pollution incidents and complaints under the Nitrates Regulations.