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An Taisce says High Court move against Nitrates Action Programme is not an ‘attack’ on farming community

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An Taisce last month (May 2022) made an application to the High Court to seek a judicial review of the fifth Nitrates Action Programme (NAP). Photo Roger Jones.

An Taisce last month (May 2022) made an application to the High Court to seek a judicial review of the fifth Nitrates Action Programme (NAP). Photo Roger Jones.

An Taisce last month (May 2022) made an application to the High Court to seek a judicial review of the fifth Nitrates Action Programme (NAP). Photo Roger Jones.

An Taisce has said its decision to make an application to the High Court to seek a judicial review of the fifth Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) announced by the Government in March is not an 'attack on the farming community'.

The Nitrates Action Programme is the framework that underpins Ireland's Nitrates Derogation, which allows farmers to exceed standard livestock stocking rates on their holdings under strict farm management conditions. Thousands of Irish dairy farmers depend on this derogation for the economic sustainability of their businesses.

In what had been an anticipated move, An Taisce said its decision to make the application was rooted in what it said was 'undisputed evidence' of the continuing deterioration of water quality in Ireland.

In a statement, it said water quality indicators are negative and continuing in a downward direction and said these figures are 'damning proof' that previous NAPs have failed to meet their purpose, which is to enable Ireland to fulfil the objectives of the Nitrates Directive.

"In that context, we could not responsibly stand by and do nothing. Our decision reflects the core remit of An Taisce to advocate for choices by, and in, Ireland that provide for a more environmentally sustainable future for the country as a whole. The NAP as proposed simply does not provide the level of protection that is needed for water quality in Ireland," it said.

An Taisce said its concerns in relation to the new NAP were 'not addressed at all' by Government.

"Regrettably, instead of putting in place something that could help halt and reverse water pollution, the government has chosen to sideline the science and the law in framing a weak and inadequate NAP," it claimed.

In its statement, An Taisce also said the move might be 'misrepresented' as some form of 'attack' on the farming community.

"This application is not against people or communities. On the contrary, it is born of a longstanding commitment to ensure that the essential ingredients for flourishing rural life and agriculture - i.e. clean water and uncontaminated soil - are preserved for future generations," it said.

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