Review of nitrates derogation underway in bid to reduce environmental footprint

'Should all intensive livestock farms follow nitrates derogation rules whether they apply or not?'

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in cooperation with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, today announced the commencement of public consultation on the conditions contained in Irelands Nitrates Derogation.

This consultation is part of a review process examining further opportunities for derogation farmers to improve efficiencies and continue to reduce their environmental footprint.

The derogation is an important facility for more intensive farmers, particularly in the dairy sector and it is essential that its environmental credentials are maintained.

Almost 7,000 intensively stocked farmers with an agricultural area of 466,000 hectares availed of the derogation in 2018 with this being a marked increase in both the area and the number farming under derogation since 2014.

A jointly chaired (DAFM and DHPLG) Expert Review Group has been convened to consider all submissions received during public consultation and will present its findings to both Ministers. 

The review is being conducted against the background of derogation farms being a very significant intensive cohort and the increasing area being farmed under the derogation.

Furthermore recent EPA reports have highlighted deterioration in water quality and increasing green house gas and ammonia emissions.

Public consultation is an important element of this review process and provides an opportunity for stakeholders to submit their views as regard the derogation and related issues.

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Among the questions posed in the consultation is how can farmers increase the efficiency of grassland management on derogation farms, while protecting the environment and whether all intensive livestock farms be subject to the conditions of the derogation whether they apply or not.

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