Environment Reports

Environment and Rural Affairs Council Report May 2020

Policy Proposals 

IFA has made a submission to Transport Infrastructure Ireland on their Greenways draft Code of Practice. A draft submission of this report is attached.

Some of the main proposals made included:

  • Highlighted the difficulties in consulting with IFA members due to the current travel and meetings restrictions, and sought for a post COVID-19 opportunity to have a more complete engagement with IFA members across the country on this issue
  • Restated the Association’s opposition to the use of CPO powers for recreational infrastructure.
  • Called for the introduction of a separate Landowner Engagement Strategy, which works with landowners and sets out a co-design Framework for the development of Greenways, without the use of CPOs.
  • Called for landowner participation in the design process at the earliest stage.
  • Called for the provision of an agronomist to advocate for landowners in each project, in advance of route selection.
  • All greenways must take a route adjacent to field boundaries unless otherwise agreed with the landowner
  • The selection process for a preferred route must have precedence where the largest number of landowners are in agreement for a development, as opposed to the five ‘S’ criteria.
  • Sought an additional consultation process with County Council Members, before planning applications are lodged by project promoters.
  • Called for impact on viability of farm businesses to be included when selecting a Greenway Project.
  • Sought the completion of an Agronomic Impact Assessment Report.
  • Sought right to claim for loss of development due to Greenway.
  • Outlined measures required to reduce risks to animal health.
  • High quality privacy screening should be an unquestionable option for any land owner or adjacent landowner erected at no cost.

The submission concludes by requesting that the proposals made are accepted and explains that further consultation will take place with IFA members impacted.

Market Report

Nitrates Derogation 

In 2019, the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) completed an interim review of the terms of the Nitrates Derogation. The latest thinking regarding the forthcoming NAP review can be seen in a DAFM on-line presentation given at a recent Teagasc on-line talk at: 

Activity Since Last National Council 

National Environment Management Committee meeting 

The National Environment Management Committee held a teleconference meeting on the 22nd of April. Items discussed included Nitrates, EU Farm to Fork Strategy, Framework document for Government Formation, Greenways, Input Price Surveys, Smart Farming Spring Seminar and Renewables. A committee WhatsApp group was also set up.

Engagement for IFA’s submission on the Greenways Code of Practice Draft 

The draft Code of Practice was shared with National Council, the Regional Offices and the National Environment Committee on 28th April. Subsequently video calls took place with members of the National Environment Management Committee, Ulster/North Leinster Regional Chair and County Chairs and Environment Committee representatives from Donegal, Galway, Westmeath, Roscommon, Kerry and Clare. Calls also took place with some Regional Development Executives and agronomist Andy Dunne to support the rights of landowners who may be impacted by proposed Greenway developments on their lands.

Sub-group meeting with TII and other farm organisations

Chairman Paul O’Brien attended a sub-group meeting on the development of the Greenways Draft Code of Practice, where he firmly articulated the concerns raised in IFA’s submission and sought more time to actively engage with potentially affected IFA members post COVID 19 restrictions.

Smart Farming Spring Seminar 

Due to COVID 19 restrictions, Smart Farming held their annual spring seminar online, which proved to be very successful. Almost 600 visitors went through the Smart Farming website on the day, with our EU Director Liam MacHale also receiving positive feedback and questions from officials in DG Clima and DG Agri.

Other Meetings/ Conference Calls

The Committee took part in conference calls with the National Waste Prevention Committee, An Foram Uisce and the Fertiliser Association Ireland Committee.

EU COPA Developments

Yesterday, May 20th saw the publication of the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to frame EU agriculture over the next decade. Within the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork element sets ambitious targets to transform the EU’s food system including:

  • a reduction by 50% of the use and risk of pesticides
  • a reduction by at least 20% of the use of fertilizers
  • a reduction by 50% in sales of antimicrobials used for farmed animals and aquaculture,
  • and reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming.

There are also proposals that facilitate consumers in choosing heathy/sustainable foods through improved information on food labelling.

Upcoming Issues 

The committee will make a submission next month to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, commenting on their publication of a Significant Water Management Issues report, as part of procedures for the River Basin Management Plan post 2021.

ChairmanPaul O’Brien
ExecutiveThomas Ryan

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