From todays Irish Times:-
"Farmers hope for relief from nitrates directive
TDs and Senators will today examine the case for relaxing new anti-pollution controls on farmers, which have already sparked angry protests.
The Environmental Protection Agency confirms that there is widespread bacteriological contamination of groundwater and drinking water supplies from livestock manure. Some 20 per cent of groundwater has nitrate concentrations above EU directive levels, the EPA reports, while 27 per cent of rivers are affected by eutrophication (excessive richness of nutrients).
So, the signing of the directive into law and the production of an action plan to implement it were vital, not just to protect the quality of Ireland's groundwater, but also to show the EU that we are serious about it.
The action plan, which finally came into force last week, includes rules on the collection and storage of manure. There are mandatory storage periods in different parts of the country from 16 weeks to 22 weeks. Spreading fertiliser is to be banned in most of the winter months, and pig and poultry farms that do not have sufficient land on which to spread slurry must store it for 26 weeks.
Chemical fertilisers cannot be applied on land close to a surface watercourse. Organic fertiliser or soiled water cannot be applied within 200 metres of areas where water is being extracted for human consumption. All of this imposes costs and inconvenience on farmers. Farm organisations say implementing some of it would be just impossible.
The Government is now examining two possible ways of responding to farmer concerns. In relation to maximum phosphate levels, it won a temporary reprieve from the EU, allowing it defer the implementation of these limits for several weeks.
... the Government is to seek a derogation from Brussels on the limits set to the spreading of livestock manure on farm land. The current limit is 170kg per hectare per year - equivalent to manure from around 2.5 cattle per hectare.
The Government's proposal is to increase this to 250kg - allowing for around three cattle per hectare, a change particularly important to intensive dairy farmers.
The Department of Agriculture is also introducing grant aid for farmers to improve their slurry storage capacity, to help them comply with the regulations which prevent slurry spreading in particular periods"
I have to ask - why - since the Directive has been around for n years and we knew we would have to implement it some day, are we still scrambling to get derogations, delays, etc? and WHY are there grants being paid....??
I also have to ask - will it be policed.....? if so how? non payment of grants?