Successfully lobbied for the removal a number of extreme measures proposed under the new Nitrates Action Programme

Friday, 12 December, 2014

Update 22/04/15

Northern Ireland’s new Nitrates Action Programme 2015-2018 was agreed in December 2014 and throughout the process the UFU lobbied intensely to ensure that any changes to the current Action Programme were minimised.  The aim of the Nitrates Action Programme is to improve water quality by protecting water against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources.

The UFU submitted a comprehensive response in August 2014 to the joint DARD and DOE consultation on the latest Action Progamme saying that while some of the amendments were welcome we had serious concerns about a majority of the proposed changes, which if implemented will have a hugely detrimental on local farm businesses and the agri-food industry as a whole. Fortunately, the proposed requirement to cover new outdoor slurry stores from 1 January 2017 was abandoned, however, disappointingly farmers will be facing more paperwork and increased bureaucracy as those who export organic manures will now be required to submit associated records annually to NIEA. The Union lobbied hard to see this new requirement dropped but unfortunately, the EU Commission has made it clear that this was non-negotiable. There is good news in the fact that the EU Commission has decided to renew Northern Ireland’s Nitrates Directive derogation for a further four years.

The Union believes strongly that farmers should be given credit for the work they have already done towards improving water quality and it is already evident that the current regulations are having a positive impact on the environment. Farmers have adapted well to a complicated programme and the efforts and investments they have made in helping improve water quality in Northern Ireland should not be overlooked.

Guidance booklets for the new Nitrates Action Programme will be available in the near future and the UFU are working alongside other stakeholders to ensure that these are of use to farmers.