Dairy expansion drives increase as ammonia emissions continue to rise
Ireland’s emissions are going in the wrong direction for people to benefit from cleaner air, as ammonia emissions continue to rise with dairy herd numbers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a new report on emission levels for the five main air pollutants. The figures show that emissions of three of the five air pollutants increased - ammonia, nitrogen oxides and non-methane volatile organic compounds.
Emissions of ammonia have been increasing since 2011 and were above the specified EU emission limit in 2016 for the first time.
This latest information from the EPA shows that Ireland exceeded its emission limits for ammonia for the first time in 2016 and emissions of this gas are increasing.
The agriculture sector accounts for virtually all (99pc) ammonia emissions in Ireland arising from the application of fertilisers - 40m tonnes of animal manures are used annually together with 300,000 tonnes of nitrogen in fertilisers.
Stephen Treacy, Senior Manager with the EPA, said ammonia limits have been breached due to the rapid expansion of dairy and beef production in Ireland in recent years.
He said this underlines the challenge in designing appropriate policies that protect our environment in a growing economy.
Emissions of two of the other air pollutants, nitrogen oxides and non-methane volatile organic compounds, while in compliance with EU limits for now, are increasing.