Dáil Éireann - Volume 492 - 09 June, 1998
Written Answers. - Water Pollution.
Mr. Gilmore Mr. Gilmore
23. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps, if any, being taken to reduce the use by farmers of phosphate and nitrate based fertilisers in view of the damage to waterways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13380/98]
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh) Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh)
 Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Pollution of waterways can arise from various sources, including domestic, industrial and agricultural.
Nutrient management planning, which involves the recycling of farm wastes onto the farm and the correlation of fertiliser usage, especially phosphates and nitrates, with cropping requirements, aims to reduce the risk of pollution from agriculture.
The rural environment protection scheme, REPS, has a major role to play in the promotion of nutrient management planning. One of the more important measures of REPS is the requirement to prepare a waste management, liming and fertilisation plan for the farm. This measure is designed to protect the quality of our waterways by minimising nutrient losses from agriculture. Over 34,500 farmers have joined the scheme from 1994 to date and I envisage that the original target of 43,000 farmers in the scheme will be exceeded by 1999.
A code of good practice to protect waters from pollution by nitrates was published jointly in July 1996 by my Department and the Department of the Environment and Local Government. This code prescribes methods to prevent or minimise the pollution of waters from nitrates by adopting certain farm waste and nutrient management techniques in the storage of organic wastes, silage, dungstead and farmyard manure and soiled water.
Substantial assistance has been provided by my Department in recent years in grant aid for investment in pollution control facilities under the control of farm pollution scheme and the farm improvement programme.
In addition to grant aid for investment in farm pollution works, improved capital allowances for investment in controlling pollution on farms were introduced in the Finance Act, 1997, and enhanced in the recent budget.
My colleague, the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, has overall responsibility for implementation of legislation for the protection of the environment. In this area, the Waste Management Act, 1996, empowers local authorities to take action where pollution of waterways is being caused by overuse of fertilisers.
Dáil Éireann 492 Written Answers. Water Pollution.