Thursday, 25 October 2018

Ceisteanna (283)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

283. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the water testing that has been done under the existing acid-sensitivity protocol developed by his Department, the EPA and COFORD to protect watercourses from acidification arising from Sitka spruce forests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44328/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Under the DAFM/EPA Acid Sensitivity Protocol, afforestation applications within certain defined areas of the country must be accompanied by water sampling at pre-approval stage, to assess the sensitivity of receiving waters to acidification.

In summary, sampling and analysis by an accredited laboratory must be carried out on at least four separate occasions within the period 1st February to the 31st May inclusive, with each sample taken at least 28 days apart. Where the minimum alkalinity of any one of the four samples taken is <8 mg CaCO3 / litre, no afforestation is permitted. If the result is 8-15 mg CaCO3 / litre, full, partial or no afforestation may be approved, following discussion and agreement between DAFM, EPA and Inland Fisheries Ireland. If the result is >15 mg CaCO3 / litre, afforestation may be licensed.  Where landowners or foresters get negative water sample results they may not proceed with potential applications.

It should be noted that, since early 2013, water sampling under the Acid Sensitivity Protocol is not required for afforestation applications which relate to native woodland creation, as these are not considered to have the same potential acidifying effect as other categories of afforestation. 

The water testing results are available in the following link:

Water Samples