Environment Reports

Environment Council Report May 2024

  1. Activity since last National Council  
  • An IFA delegation met with representatives National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to discuss the Nature Restoration and the 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) 2023 to 2030. The meeting was constructive and NPWS agreed to increase engagement and consultation with farmers as part of the implementation process.  
  • The NPWS reiterated Minister Noonan’s commitment that all measures under the NRL would be voluntary for farmers.  
  • IFA has prepared a submission template for Local Authority Biodiversity Action Plans consultations. 
  • NPWS has linked IFA with the Heritage Council to participate in the training workshops for Local Authority Biodiversity Officers. IFA has been invited to make a presentation in June to improve engagement with farmers.     
  • IFA attended meeting of the Agriculture Water Quality Group on 29th February. Some key measures proposed for the Appropriate Assessment under the Interim review of the Nitrates Action Programme include:  
  • Changes to nutrient excretion rates for young bovines 

Teagasc research shows the calf excretes 1kg of nitrogen in the first three months of its life.  While it excretes a further 20kg of nitrogen over the remaining nine months.  Subject to conclusion of the process, the current annual excretion rate of 24kg of nitrogen for the 0–1-year-old animal will be updated to reflect two sub-categories the calf aged 0-3 months and cattle aged 4-12 months.  The nutrient excretion rate for cattle aged 1-2 will be amended to 55kg in respect of females and 61kg in respect of males reflecting most recent scientific work.  

  • Reducing crude protein in concentrates fed to dairy cows 

Dairy farmers will have the option to gain recognition for reductions in concentrate crude protein beyond regulatory requirements.  Farmer will have the option to consider their own position and the average annual level of concentrate crude protein they wish to feed to their herd when they are confirming their dairy band through ICBF in the coming weeks.  When that portal opens farmers will be able to see the position for their own herd and opt-in to this measure if they wish. 

Crude protein concentrate * Nitrogen excretion rates across three Average Milk Yield Bands 
 <=4,500 kg 4,501-6,500kg >6,500kg 
Default 80 92 106 
>14% & ≤15% 79 90 103 
>13 % & ≤14% 78 89 100 
≤13% 76 87 98 

*As feed basis, (Fresh Weight) 

  • Reduced timeframe for reporting livestock manure movements 

To allow inspection on the ground to verify slurry movements, the Department is moving to a timeframe of four days for reporting livestock manure movements between farms. This will be rolled out in the coming weeks allowing farmers sufficient time to declare any movements of manure that have already taken place in 2024. 

  • Changes to maximum chemical nitrogen allowances for grassland 

There will be reduced maximum chemical nitrogen allowances for certain categories of grassland stocking.   

  • The An Taisce case, which is seeking a judicially review the Government’s fifth Nitrates Action Programme (NAP), was heard in the High Court’s planning and environmental division from the 12th to 15th December 2023.  
  • On the 6th March a procedural judgment issued that clarified the issues to be dealt with by the courts at a future date. 
  • 1st May the High Court directed a second round of submissions, with a potential further hearing, on the substantive detail of the case. 
  • IFA made a submission to the CRU public consultation on Non-Domestic Tariff Framework on the 22nd February. A copy of the IFA submission is enclosed.  
  • IFA met with representatives of CRU to discuss IFA’s submission in more detail on the 2nd April.  
  • IFA participate in the closing panel discussion on Making Nature Visible: What Can Natural Capital Accounting do for Us? in the Royal Dublin Convention Centre on the 12th March.  
  • NESC published Natural Capital Accounting – A Guide for Action Roundtable report.  The report sets out how to go about considering and valuing invisible services that nature provides. The three areas for action recommended within the report are: (i) capacity-building, (ii) spotlight on Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) schemes and (iii) support for integration: Advice on how to integrate natural capital accounting into the wider policy system. The report is available to read here.  
  • IFA attended IFFPG Management (24th February and 5th March) and Board (28th February) meeting.  
  • Representatives from IFFPG met with Department of Environment, Climate and Communication online on the 5th March.  
  • IFA attended the 5th National Climate Stakeholder Forum (NCSF) in the Convention Centre on the 28th February.  
  • IFA attended the ESG (Environment Social Governance) Forum in the Gibson Hotel on the 29th February.  
  • IFA participated in a Climate adaptation research workshop in DCU St. Patrick’s Campus on the 13th March.  
  • IFA attended the Land Use Review Citizen Engagement Group Meeting #2 in Camden Court Hotel on the 20th March.  
  • IFA attended a National Climate Change Risk Assessment (NCCRA) Information Webinar organised by Department of Environment, Climate and Communication on the 21st March.  
  • IFA attended the Q1 Uisce Ėireann National Stakeholder Forum on 27th March.  
  • An internal meeting with IFA Infrastructure Project Team was held on the 3rd April to provide an update on ongoing negotiations.  
  • IFA met with representatives of An Taisce to discuss water quality and Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) on 10th April.  
  • IFA attended a Waters of LIFE Stakeholder Advisory Group Meeting on 11th April.  
  • IFA attended the ASSAP Farming Consultative Group meeting on 25th March updates were provided by Agricultural Catchments Programme, LAWPRO and ASSAP.  
  • Update were provided on the new €60 million Water EIP Project – Targeted Measures to Improve Water Quality on Farms. For more information on the project click here.  
  • IFA was a panellist at the RDS Finding Common Ground event – Delivering Biodiversity on Agricultural Land on 3rd May.  
  • The IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Committee met on 17th April in the Farm Centre, agenda topics included Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme and proposed environmental levy on tyres, EU Emission Trading Scheme, National Agricultural Inspection Programme etc.  
  1. Any EU/COPA developments 
  • On the 27th of February 2024, the EU Nature Restoration Law (NRL) was passed by the EU Parliament. This law was first proposed by the European Commission in 2022 to restore 20% of EU land and 20% of EU seas by 2030. 
  • In advance of the compromised text going to Parliament via COPA several amendments to the texts were proposed, the proposed amendments were limited to previous iterations of the text. IFA proposed that Article 9 relating to Agricultural Ecosystems be deleted, as had previously been agreed by the Council in November 2023.  
  • In advance of Parliament vote IFA met with representatives of Irish Hill and Natura Farmers Associations and Irish Rural Association to brief them and discuss proposed amendments to the law.   
  • Following the February vote it had been expected that the Environment Ministers meeting in the European Council would pass the law on the 25th March however due to lack of support for Members States there was not sufficient support to pass the law. To secure support for the law Council needs a qualified majority i.e. 65% of the EU’s population.  
  • On foot of the this the Council vote on the NRL has been postponed.  
  • The European Commission held a public consultation on the Nitrates Directive evaluation of the Nitrates Directive, the closing date was the 8th March.  
  • The aim of the consultation was to evaluate and assess if the Nitrates Directive remains fit for purpose and contributes to a sustainable and resilient agriculture and food security. A key objective was also be to investigate the potential for simplification, burden and cost reductions with a focus on increased coherence with other legislation and developments in farm practices and technology. 
  • IFA encouraged farmers to participate with the public consultation and circulated an information via WhatsApp network. 
  • The IFA submission to Nitrates Directive is enclosed.   
  • IFA attended COPA Working Party on Environment meeting on 13th March 2024.  
  1. Upcoming issues 
  • IFA will meet with representatives from EPA in Johnstown Castle, Wexford on 10th May to get briefing on the GHG emission inventory for Agriculture and Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).  
  • IFA will prepare a submission to the RENURE consultation which is due on the 17th May.   
  • IFA will coordinate with Regional Executive to make submissions to the Local Authorities public consultations on Local Authority Biodiversity Action Plans.  
  • IFA will coordinate with Circol ELT to organise regional bring centres for waste tyres.  
  • IFA will lobby Minister Oisin Smyth to secure an extension to the proposed introduction of an environmental levy on agricultural tyres.  

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