Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Nitrates Usage

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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188. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if Ireland has formally communicated a request for a new nitrates derogation to the European Commission pursuant to Council Directive 91/676/EEC; if so, the basis on which it was determined appropriate to apply for such a derogation in advance of the finalisation of a new nitrates action plan; if he will provide this Deputy with the documents supporting the request for a new derogation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56761/21]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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Ireland notified the European Commission of its intention to apply for a renewal of its derogation under the Nitrates Directive at the Nitrates Management Committee meeting on 25th September 2020. Ireland formally wrote to the European Commission on 13th October 2021 requesting a renewal of the derogation.

The purpose of the derogation is to provide for higher stocking densities on certain farms, on application, subject to more stringent environmental requirements and enhanced enforcement and inspection programmes. Any derogation decision proposed by the Commission is based on measures that build on the protection levels provided in the national Nitrates Action Programme

As part of the preparation of the next Nitrates Action Programme my Department recently conducted a public consultation process. This followed on from an initial public consultation which was held in late 2020.

Officials from my Department, along with colleagues from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are still in discussions with the Commission on the review of Ireland's Nitrates Action Programme, and this process incorporates negotiations on the renewal of Ireland’s derogation. Both the Nitrates Action Programme and the derogation are complementary control mechanisms and it is prudent to engage with the Commission on the derogation before the Nitrates Action Programme is finalised to ensure the measures in the derogation are robust and effective in providing enhanced environmental protection.

The letter of 13th October requesting a renewal of Ireland’s derogation is attached for the Deputy's information. Due to the confidential nature of the ongoing negotiations with the European Commission, I am unable to make available the supporting documentation at this time. However, once the negotiation process has fully concluded I can again consider the Deputy’s request.



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