Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 February 2018

'It's the smell of progress' - Slurry spreading sparks massive Liveline debate

Slurry spreading
Slurry spreading

Tomás Heneghan

The spreading of slurry in the countryside should be more closely regulated, radio talk-show callers argued.

In a discussion broadcast on RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline on Friday afternoon a number of callers to the show revealed how their daily lives had been made difficult by the agricultural activity.

Trisha, the woman who first raised the issue, told the show’s presenter Philip Boucher-Hayes: “Yesterday evening I did have a smell. It’s very bad.”

She said waste was being spread in the fields near her home on a regular basis and was being left for a full 24 hours above ground, causing the strong smell.

Trisha explained that the slurry is spread directly on to the soil and farmers return after a day or so to plough the waste into the ground, which also removes the odour.

She said: “It’s been happening there for the past four years… I’m kind of used to it.”

However she said her husband and others who don’t spend the entire day in the house are shocked by the strength of the smell whenever they come to her home.

Trisha explained she had contacted her local county council and the Environmental Protection Agency about the issue but was simply told there were guidelines in place for the disposal of waste.

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She added that the waste was being stored in an area near her home and said: “During May there was about three weeks we couldn’t open a window.”

She explained: “There’s no problem if it’s done properly.”

A second caller agreed with Trisha, saying the disposal of waste in the countryside should be “better regulated” and farmers in particular spreading the waste should behave more responsibly.

Fran, who said he currently lives in Roscommon but is originally from Wicklow, told the show: “I dread sunny days down here because that’s when they do it.”

He also said he believes the activity could be damaging the local environment by driving away insects and birds which had previously been there.

Another caller, Paddy, said there should be no strong smell from the waste if it was being treated as it is in Dublin.

He said that although he could understand the position of people spreading slurry on fields, he added: “It should be done in a manner that is not offensive.”

However others disagreed, telling Trisha she should simply get used to the smell as they said it was a part of living in the countryside.

One man, Colm, said: “I think that woman is overreacting a bit… maybe she’s from the city. If you live in the country you have to except it.

"You have to get used to it," he added.

Another man, John said he thought it was natural and simply “the smell of progress”.

Joanne, who said her sister had been living in Switzerland for 30 years, explained that farmers in that country spread the waste on land every year.

She said that despite it not being “exactly pleasant” she did not understand how people were finding it difficult to live with.

“I personally didn’t find it too bad,” she added.

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