IFA President Joe Healy said it’s high time that local authorities and Irish Water addressed the illegal pumping of raw sewage into our rivers and streams, and to ensure Ireland does not face fines following a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) earlier this year.
Responding to the EPA water quality report, he said, “Ireland stands guilty before the ECJ of one water quality issue and that’s non-compliance with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, which was introduced almost 20 years ago. This has led to raw sewage with high phosphorous and nitrogen concentrations from the equivalent of 77,000 people being released into our waters every day”.
Regarding farming’s contribution to a better rural environment Joe Healy said, “Over the past decade, farmers have spent over €2.5bn bringing their farmyards up to the highest environmental standards. Also, over 40% of all farmers in Ireland take part in the Department of Agriculture’s Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS), which is over-subscribed and closed to new entrants.
In addition, all farmers farm to Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions. Farmers throughout the country are also actively taking part in the ASSAP programme operated by Teagasc and dairy co-ops.”
The introduction of the following measures will lead to better water quality in rural areas:
- A national liming support scheme, to address soil fertility issues and ensure nutrients are taken up in soils.
- Increased supports for low-emissions slurry spreading equipment, to reduce the risk of nutrient run-off.
- The re-opening of the GLAS programme and an increase in annual payments to €10,000.
“Ireland’s water quality is amongst the best in Europe, this is something to be proud of. However, images of raw sewage going into our rivers and streams take from this. Farmers will continue to take part in schemes such as GLAS and voluntary schemes such as the ASSAP programme. After all, farmers are the custodians of the rural environment.”