EnvironmentEnvironment Reports

Environment & Rural Affairs Council Report March 2021

Activity since last National Council 

  • IFA made a submission to the public consultation on the Fourth Review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Plan, Stage 1 (see enclosed or click here). In the submission IFA stated that the current nitrates derogation is maintained, without further onerous requirements as well as highlighting the financial vulnerability of the sector. It highlighted the issues caused by poor communication by DAFM in relation to new requirements that were introduced 1st January 2021, as well as the need to allow time for these new measures to work before imposing additional restrictions/requirements on farmers.  
  • IFA made submission Public Consultation on the National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP) (see enclosed or click here). In the submission IFA highlighted that farmers are committed to helping reduce ammonia emissions, but that continued co-investment is needed to support farmers to remain competitive as they go through these changes. IFA proposes the following: 
  • Increased grant to 60% for low emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment under Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) and that LESS equipment is VAT exempt. 
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine introduce an incentive scheme, which closes the price differential gap and includes an additional top-up to incentivise up-take of protected urea. 
  • A measure is introduced under future agri-environment scheme to support farmers to incorporate clover as part of grassland management to reduce nitrogen fertiliser requirement. 
  • IFA made 18 submissions to Bord na Móna’s public consultations on the Peatlands Climate Action Scheme (PCAS) to date. To facilitate discussions with members IFA hosted a Farmers Discussion on Bog Rewetting 

The first meeting of the working group was held on virtually on the 18th February, at the meeting it was agreed that Bord na Móna would: 

  • Provide written responses to the questions asked by farmers from the Q&A session. 
  • Give an overview of the hydrological assessment, including the procedures for estimating and predicting water on a specific site. 

A dedicated PCAS website has been established: https://www.bnmpcas.ie/, to read through the draft rehabilitation plans for the 19 projects planned for 2021, click here or to talk with Conor Feighery,  Community Liaison on M. 087 3779841 (09:00-17:30)  or E. [email protected].  The Working Group will meet again in late March to continue to review the implementation of the Peatland Climate Action Scheme. IFA will be making a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tuesday, 2nd March.  

  • IFA met with EU Care Peat project team Terry Morley, NUIG and Niall Ó Brolcháin, NUIG. The project aims to develop new policies and methods for managing and monitoring carbon reduction from peatlands. The €6.23 million project involves partners from Ireland, the UK, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. 
  • IFA made a submission to the Public Consultation on the Microgeneration Support Scheme (MSS) (see enclosed or click here). IFA proposed a number of changes that would limit uptake and hamper farm and community-based microgeneration deployment. To remove these barriers and support widespread, these included: 
  • In combination with Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) payment, a capital grant support should be available to overcome the high initial investment costs. 
  • Zero cost access and use of the grid for microgeneration installations under 50kW microgeneration. 
  • Removal of the self-consumption limit of 70% to provide low energy users opportunities to generate and export renewable energy. 
  • Removal of the Building Energy Rating (BER) rating requirement. 
  • A streamlined consistent application process with defined timelines for planning decisions. 
  • Domestic residence and farm buildings should be linked using private wire systems so they can share electricity produced. 
  • IFA wrote to Eamonn Ryan, Minister for Environment, Climate & Communications seeking a meeting to discuss submissions and barriers to adoption at farm level.  
  • IFA made a 2nd submission to the Draft Code of Best Practice and Guide for National Greenway Projects published by Transport Industry Ireland (TII). A meeting took place between TII and IFA to finalise the draft code and to start negotiations on compensation. IFA has attended a number of County Executives to discuss code and work that is ongoing to protect farmers that are directly impacted by Greenway development.  
  • IFA has been participating in stakeholder consultation on route corridor options with County Engineers where road projects are planned. IFA and TII have agreed to keep the existing agreement in place until the end of 2021, so there is time to negotiate a new agreement.  This work is ongoing.  
  • The IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Committee met on 17th February to discuss Greenways and the Microgeneration Support Scheme.  
  • Work is ongoing in developing a carbon guidance document looking at emission in agriculture, legislative framework, carbon farming, emission trading etc.  
  • IFA is having weekly meetings with EPA on Smart Farming as it finalises 2021 workplan and starts the process to develop a three-year vision for the programme.  IFA is seeking interested farmers to participate in the 2021 programme and getting a free cost saving for their farm, if you are interested contact Edel McEvoy 01 426 0343.  

Any EU/COPA developments 

  • IFA made submissions to public consultations on the proposed revisions to (i) EU Emissions Trading System Directive, (ii) Effort Sharing Regulation and (iii) Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation. In advance of consultation an expert meeting was held at European level to discuss agreed positions.  
  • A new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change was published on February 24th.   
  • IFA attended an expert’s seminar on Eco-schemes with presentation from DG Agri, followed by farmers organisation discussion.  

Upcoming issues 

  • Continue discussions with Bord na Móna to deliver on proposals set out in IFA submissions. 
  • Prepare submission to the NESC consultation paper on Climate and Biodiversity Challenges and Opportunities 
  • Continue to work on the Greenway Code of Practice.  

Related Articles