Ongoing secrecy over nitrates negotiations

Caitriona Murphy

The Nitrates Directive negotiations between Ireland and Brussels are still shrouded in mystery.

Officials from the Departments of Agriculture and Environment held a bilateral meeting with officers from DG Sanco (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs) on Wednesday.

The Irish officials described the three-hour meeting as "constructive".

It is understood that Brussels officials have asked for further information on certain elements of Ireland's national action plan but Irish officials are remaining tight-lipped about what issues are in question.

A second meeting has been scheduled to take place between Irish and Brussels officials in the next fortnight.

Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith and Minister for the Environment John Gormley met on two occasions prior to the Brussels meeting to agree the national position.

It is believed that the pair accepted the bulk of the Teagasc recommendations, which included 21 amendments to the current regulations.

IFA environment chairman Pat Farrell said greater flexibility in the nitrate regulations was critically important for Irish farmers.

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Irish Independent

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