Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ceisteanna (504, 518)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

504. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding farmers who wish to spread slurry on their own land but where some of the land is designated an aquifer for a public water supply and they do not have sufficient lands to take all their slurry; the recommended practice by his Department in these situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22213/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

518. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the rules regarding farmers spreading agricultural slurry on land in an area that is designated as an aquifer for water supply in a region; the conditions that attach in these situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22212/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 504 and 518 together.

The Nitrates Directive and Ireland's 3rd National Nitrates Action Programme are given legal effect by the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014. The objective of the Regulations is to protect ground and surface waters, including drinking water sources, primarily through the management of livestock manures and other fertilisers.

In order to protect drinking water sources from the risk of pollution, the Regulations lay down general minimum set back distances around abstraction points used for the abstraction of drinking water for human consumption within which the land spreading of organic fertilisers e.g. manures and slurries is not permitted. This is done to protect human health. The set-back distance requirements are 200m from an abstraction point for a water scheme supplying 100m3 or more of water per day or serving 500 or more persons; 100m for an abstraction point for water used for human consumption in a water scheme supplying 10m3 or more of water per day or serving 50 or more persons; and 25m from any borehole, spring or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption.

These setback distances can be reduced to 30m (and 15m in the case of small abstractions) where the local authority determines that the reduced distance does not give rise to a risk to the water supply and a potential danger to human health. This requires the local authority to undertake a technical assessment of conditions in the vicinity of the abstraction point, taking into account soil conditions, landspreading pressures in the area, the type of drinking water abstraction, available water quality evidence and the likely risk to the drinking water supply source. The EPA has provided guidance to assist local authorities in this task.

Any farmer affected in this manner, should in the first instance, contact his or her local authority.