Dáil Éireann - Volume 622 - 27 June, 2006

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the status of the Nitrates Directive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23620/06]

  Mary Coughlan: The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government made Regulations in December 2005 giving legal effect to Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme. The Regulations came into effect on 1 February 2006, but the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government then announced a brief de facto deferral of the implementation of Part 3 of the Regulations dealing with nutrient management. This was to allow time for Teagasc to submit revised scientific advice, which was received early in March.

Detailed proposals for amendments to the Regulations, along with the scientific arguments to justify the changes, were forwarded to the Commission by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on 18 May. There have since been discussions and other contacts between officials of the two Depart[811] ments, Teagasc representatives and the European Commission.

The proposals, which the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has put forward, were developed in conjunction with my Department and with the input of Teagasc and address a range of important issues identified in the Teagasc submission and raised by the farming bodies. I am satisfied that the changes proposed to the Commission will be of major benefit to Irish farmers, in that they will provide them with greater flexibility in complying with fertiliser limits and simplify certain aspects of the Regulations.