Dáil Éireann - Volume 524 - 25 October, 2000
Written Answers. - Water Quality.
Mr. D. Moynihan Mr. D. Moynihan
133. Mr. D. Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the programmes in place by his Department for the protection and improvement of water quality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23392/00]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): My Department has introduced a range of measures to protect and improve water quality in Ireland. The rural environment protection scheme, more commonly known as REPS, has as one of its main objectives the protection of water quality. The National Development Plan 2000-2006 provides for expen diture of some £1,600 million on environmental protection measures under REPS.
Apart from REPS, payments under agricultural aid schemes will generally be subject to good farming practice. A range of measures is required in good farming practice, including conformity with Teagasc recommendations on nutrient management, including proper use of nitrogen and chemical and organic fertilisers, and to comply with the 1996 Code of Good Agricultural Practice to Protect Waters from Pollution by Nitrates.
The national scheme of investment aid for the control of farm pollution is in place which provides for grant aid for the construction of waste storage facilities, silage storage facilities, animal housing and associated farmyard facilities. It is a prerequisite to participation in the scheme that applicants are either in the rural environment protection scheme or have a nutrient management plan approved by my Department. The scheme provides farmers with the necessary support to improve pollution control on their farms, engage in more sustainable farming practices and protect the environment including water quality. Since its introduction in 1999, 5,700 applications have been received under the scheme, approvals involving potential grant aid of £27.8 million have issued by my Department and grant aid of £6.3 million has been paid.
In addition, under the national development plan a provision of £180.9 million has been made for a scheme of investment aid for farm waste management for the period 2000-2006. It is proposed to provide grant aid for similar investment items to the current national scheme of investment aid for the control of farm pollution. It will be a requirement that farmers participating in this new scheme must follow good farming practice. Penalties will apply to non compliance with any of the GFP measures. It is expected that 20,000 farmers will benefit from this scheme. Clearance to proceed with this scheme requires the approval of the European Commission. Negotiations between my Department and the European Commission on the approval process are at an advanced stage.
My Department continues its support for organic farming, including financial support for measures to improve marketing and public awareness of the environmental benefits of organic products. The National Development Plan 2000-2006 provides for expenditure of £6 million under this heading.
Substantial progress is being made in dealing with pollution especially from phosphorus generated from intensive animal rearing systems. The operation of the integrated pollution control licensing system by the Environmental Protection Agency for intensive pig and poultry rearing units will have beneficial effects.
I met recently with the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Dempsey, and the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Fahey, to discuss strategies for the protection of water quality in the envir onment. We have agreed to strengthen liaison arrangements between our Departments and the State agencies to complement and support our individual work programmes and policy objectives on water quality in our rivers and lakes.
Dáil Éireann 524 Written Answers. Water Quality.