Dáil Éireann - Volume 576 - 03 December, 2003
Written Answers. - EU Directives.
Mr. Boyle Mr. Boyle
67. Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the progress being made to implement the 1996 code of good agricultural practice in the context of implementing the Nitrates Directive countrywide and the requirement in certain locations for six months slurry storage as set out in the action plan. [29328/03]
Mr. Walsh Mr. Walsh
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):In 1996 the Code of Good Agricultural Practice to Protect Waters from Pollution by Nitrates was issued jointly by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Minister for the Environment. The code is a voluntary one and fulfilled obligations arising under the 1991 Nitrates Directive. It was developed in consultation with the farming organisations and was designed to promote environmentally friendly farming practices while maintaining high water quality status. The code addresses a range of pollution problems with the aim of reducing nitrate losses and restoring water quality. It contains practical advice for farmers on how to avoid the risk of water pollution and how good pollution control practices could be put in place.
The code is complimentary to the rural environment protection scheme and many of its elements are in REPS. There are 37,000 farmers in REPS and I hope a substantially higher number shall join the amended scheme for which I hope to get early European Commission approval. Many elements of the code are in the Good Farming Practice booklet which was produced in 2001 in consultation with the farm organisations and it contains many of the code's elements. Compliance with good farming practice is compulsory for all farmers claiming direct payments and many other Department schemes. In practice this means that it applies to the vast majority of Irish farmers.
In the period since the code was published in 1996 my Department has given substantial grant aid for works to improve water quality. A sum of €250 million was paid through the control of farm pollution scheme, the national farm pollution scheme and the farm waste management scheme to over 23,800 farmers.
At present the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, in conjunction with my Department and Teagasc, is developing an action programme to provide for further implementation of the Nitrates Directive. Work on the programme is well advanced and a draft will soon be made available. It will be subject to a consultative process with the main farming organisations and other stakeholders. The programme is likely to include the main elements of the 1996 code.
Dáil Éireann 576 Written Answers. EU Directives.