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									       IRELAND


NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMME

        UNDER THE

    NITRATES DIRECTIVE




        28 July 2005
                                            Index


Item                                                                     Page

Introduction                                                              1

1. Background to National Action Programme
      1.1 Nitrates Directive                                              2
      1.2 Action programmes                                               2
      1.3 Limit on the amount of livestock manure to be applied           3
      1.4 Waters addressed by the Directive                               3
      1.5 Water quality in Ireland                                        4
      1.6 Implementation to date                                          5
      1.7 Whole territory approach                                        8
      1.8 Designation Regulations                                         8
      1.9 Draft action programme: Consultation                            9
      1.10 Action Programme: Revision                                     9
      1.11 Application for derogation                                     9
      1.12 Achieving compliance                                           9

2. National Action Programme
       2.1 General                                                        10
       2.2 Definitions                                                    10
       2.3 Zones                                                          11
       2.4 Periods when land application of fertilisers is prohibited     11
       2.5 Capacity of storage facilities for livestock manure            12
       2.6 General provisions as to storage management                    14
       2.7 Limit on the amount of livestock manure to be applied          14
       2.8 Limits on the amount of fertilisers to be applied              14
       2.9 Requirements as to the manner of application of fertilisers    15
       2.10 Ploughing and the use of non-selective herbicides             16

3. Record Keeping and Compliance monitoring
      3.1 Record keeping                                                  17
      3.2 Competent authorities                                           17
      3.3 Supervision and controls                                        18
      3.4 Penalties                                                       18

4. Monitoring and Evaluation of National Action Programme
      4.1 Assessing effectiveness of action programme                     19
      4.2 General monitoring programme                                    20
      4.3 Localised monitoring of waters in higher-risk areas             22
      4.4 Monitoring impact of action programme measures at
            Farm and mini-catchment levels                                23

5. Support for the National Action Programme
      5.1 Investment                                                      27
      5.2 National advisory service                                       27
      5.3 Guidance document                                               28

Annex 1    Definitions of certain terms                                   29
Annex 2    Table: Nitrates Action Programme: Zones and Minimum
                  Periods of Storage for Livestock Manure                 30
Annex 3    Map: Minimum slurry storage requirements                       31
Annex 4    Data relevant to the evaluation of the effectiveness of
           the Action Programme                                           32
Introduction

This programme has been prepared in accordance with Article 5 of the Nitrates
Directive (91/676/EEC) for the purpose of further implementation of the Directive in
Ireland. The Directive relates to the protection of waters against pollution by nitrates
from agricultural sources.

This document sets out –

          in Chapter 1, background information in relation to the Directive and its
           implementation to date, and

          in Chapters 2 to 5, a national action programme for its further
           implementation.

The programme has been prepared jointly by the Department of the Environment,
Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG) and the Department of Agriculture and Food
(DAF), following consultation over an extended period with interested parties, which
included two formal rounds of public consultation with farming organisations and other
stakeholders. Regard has been had to the comments provided by interested parties
and the recommendations made by an independent adviser appointed for the purpose
by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Regard has also
been had to the views expressed by the European Commission following its
consideration of the programme submitted by Ireland on 22 October 2004.

In the preparation of this document regard was had to case law established in recent
judgments of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in relation to the Nitrates Directive,
including a judgment delivered on 11 March 2004 in relation to Ireland (C-396/01 -
2004). The ECJ has held that Ireland is non-compliant with the Directive by virtue inter
alia of not having yet established an action programme. Other recent judgments of
significance include those delivered in relation to Germany (C-161/00 - 2002), France
(C-258/00 - 2002) and the Netherlands (C-322/00 - 2003).

An application has been made separately to the European Commission in accordance
with Annex III of the Directive for approval of a higher limit in relation to the amount of
nitrogen from livestock manure which can be applied to land having regard to
environmental and agricultural conditions in Ireland.




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1.    Background to National Action Programme

1.1   Nitrates Directive

The Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) – Council Directive of 12 December 1991
concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from
agricultural sources – was adopted in 1991 and has the objective of reducing water
pollution caused or induced by nitrates from agricultural sources and preventing further
such pollution, with the primary emphasis being on the management of livestock
manures and other fertilisers.

The Nitrates Directive generally requires Member States to -

         monitor waters and identify waters which are polluted or are liable to
          pollution by nitrates from agriculture
         establish a code of good agricultural practice to protect waters from such
          pollution
         promote the application by farmers of the code of good agricultural practice
         identify the area or areas to which an action programme should be applied
          to protect waters from pollution by nitrates from agricultural sources
         develop and implement action programmes to reduce and prevent such
          pollution in the identified area: action programmes are to be implemented
          and updated on a four-year cycle
         monitor the effectiveness of the action programmes, and
         report to the EU Commission on progress.

Judgments of the ECJ have clarified that the Directive requires Member States to
establish a first action programme not later than 19 December 1995 and that Ireland is
non-compliant with the Directive by virtue inter alia of not yet having established an
action programme. It is incumbent on Ireland therefore to establish and implement an
action programme at an early date in order to achieve compliance.


1.2   Action programmes

The action programmes to be developed by Member States must include rules relating
to –

         periods when the land application of certain types of fertiliser is prohibited
         the capacity of storage vessels for livestock manure: generally this capacity
          must exceed that required to store manure for the full length of the
          “prohibited period”
         limitations on the land application of fertilisers consistent with good
          agricultural practice taking into account characteristics such as soil
          conditions, soil type, slope, climatic conditions, rainfall, irrigation, land use
          and agricultural practices and a balance between nitrogen supply and
          nitrogen requirements of the crops




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          limits to ensure that for each holding the amount of livestock manure applied
           to land each year, including by the animals themselves, shall not exceed a
           specified amount per hectare
          other matters set out in the code of good agricultural practice.

A National Nitrates Action Programme for Ireland was sent to the European
Commission on 22 October 2004. In response, the EU Commission indicated by letter
dated 22 December 2004 that the programme was inadequate and needed to be
strengthened in specific respects. This current revised action programme responds to
the concerns expressed by the Commission and incorporates appropriate revisions to
the programme sent in October 2004.

1.3    Limit on the amount of livestock manure to be applied

The Directive specifies the maximum amount of livestock manure which may be
applied as the amount containing 170 kg of nitrogen per hectare per year. Member
States may fix different amounts provided that the different amounts do not prejudice
the achievement of the objectives of the Directive and can be justified by reference to
objective criteria such as long growing seasons, crops with high nitrogen uptake, high
net precipitation and soils with exceptionally high denitrification capacity.

A judgment of the ECJ in October 2003 (Case C-322/00, Commission v Netherlands)
has clarified that the approval of the European Commission is required where a
Member State proposes to fix an amount higher than 170 kg of nitrogen from livestock
manure. Where a Member State wishes to seek approval for a higher amount
(generally known as “a derogation”) it must make an application to the European
Commission and justify the application on the basis of the objective criteria set out in
2(b) of Annex III of the Directive.

As a transitional feature on commencement of implementation, the Directive allowed
Member States an option to fix, at their own discretion, amounts of up to 210 kg of
nitrogen from livestock manure during their first four-year action programme.
Judgments of the ECJ have clarified that this discretion related only to a four-year
period commencing at the latest on 19 December 1995 and that this discretion is no
longer available to EU 15 Member States. The approval of the European Commission
must now be obtained for any derogation from the general limit of 170 kg nitrogen from
livestock manure – see paragraph 1.11 in relation to Ireland‟s application for a
derogation.


1.4    Waters addressed by the Directive

The Nitrates Directive defines waters which are polluted or are liable to pollution as:-

      surface freshwaters, in particular those used for the abstraction of drinking
      water, which contain or could contain, if preventative action is not taken, nitrate
      concentrations greater than 50 mg/l.

      groundwaters which contain or could contain, if preventative action is not taken,
      nitrate concentrations greater than 50 mg/l


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      natural freshwater lakes, or other freshwater bodies, estuaries, coastal
      waters and marine waters which are found to be eutrophic or in the near future
      may become eutrophic if preventative action is not taken.

A judgment of the ECJ in June 2002 clarified that eutrophic waters must be addressed
under the Nitrates Directive even where the eutrophication is caused mainly by
phosphorus rather than nitrates from agricultural sources (Case C-258/00,
Commission v France).

Eutrophication is the enrichment of waters by excessive inputs of nutrients such as
nitrogen or phosphorus compounds, causing accelerated growth of algae and higher
forms of plant life, resulting in an undesirable disturbance to the balance of organisms
present and to the quality of the water concerned. Agriculture is the largest source of
inputs to Irish waters of phosphorus and nitrogen contributing an estimated 73% and
82%, respectively. Other sources include wastewater treatment plants, industry, and
septic tanks. Eutrophication of inland waters is considered to be Ireland‟s most
serious environmental pollution problem. In addition to the measures taken in the
agricultural sector, measures continue to be taken to prevent pollution from other
sectors. These measures include legislation to regulate discharges from industrial and
commercial activities, continued major investment in urban waste water treatment
facilities nationwide, additional legislation to regulate the discharge of dangerous
substances and the virtual elimination by the detergents industry of phosphate-based
domestic laundry detergents (see Section 1.6 for further information).

Co-ordinated water management on the basis of river basins is the main theme of the
Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) (WFD), which came into effect in December
2000 and which requires the maintenance of „high status‟ in waters where this exists,
the prevention of deterioration of status in any waters and the achievement by 2015 of
at least „good status‟ in relation to all waters or such higher status as is required in
relation to protected areas. The WFD involves a comprehensive approach to water
management requiring co-ordination of actions by all public authorities to combat
adverse impacts on water status from all sources. The WFD relates to all inland and
coastal waters and requires the adoption of a river basin management plan in relation
to each River Basin District. Major projects for development of river basin
management systems have been established by local authorities. In addition, a wide
range of public authorities are co-operating in the completion of all the tasks required
by the Directive. All implementation deadlines have been achieved to date by Irish
authorities. A co-ordinated approach is being pursued with authorities in Northern
Ireland in relation to shared waters.


1.5    Water quality in Ireland

Water quality in Ireland is generally good in a European context but has deteriorated
from the position which prevailed when surveys commenced in 1971. The third report
of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the state of the environment
(Ireland’s Environment 2004 - published in April 2004) indicated that agriculture is
responsible for a significant proportion of Irish water pollution in rivers, lakes, estuaries
and groundwaters.


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An EPA report titled Water Quality in Ireland, 1998-2000, indicated a halt to the
continuing decline in water quality, however the most recent EPA report on Water
Quality in Ireland, 2001-2003, published in June 2005, indicates that this trend has not
been sustained, with a further, albeit minor, decline in water quality. The report points
to the need for further major programmes to eliminate water pollution. This, latest,
report shows that some 30.8% of river channel length is affected by pollution to some
extent i.e. slight (17.9%), moderate (12.3%) or serious (0.6%) pollution: elevated
nitrate levels are recorded in approximately 20% of well sampling stations and high
ammonia values were found in groundwaters across 8 counties.

It also shows that there continues to be a decline in the number and percentage of Q5
river stations countrywide. These are the sites of the highest biological water quality
and the number of such sites has fallen from over 600 in the 1980s to a current level of
less than 100.

The most recent EPA report on drinking water quality (The Quality of Drinking Water in
Ireland, A Report for the Year 2003) indicates that breaches of the prescribed standard
for nitrates in drinking water supplies (public and private) were recorded in 10 counties
(Cavan, Cork, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Waterford, Wicklow).
While at a national level Ireland has achieved over 99% compliance with the nitrates
standard of the Drinking Water Directive, breaches in the standard for any supply is of
serious concern especially given that the nitrates standard of 50 mg per litre is some 5
times the normal background level of nitrates in water in the environment.

A considerable strengthening of resolve and effort is required by all sectors to protect
water quality and to reduce the prevailing levels of pollution to enable Ireland to
achieve the WFD target of at least “good status” in all waters by 2015 or such higher
status as is required in relation to protected areas.


1.6   Implementation to date

By way of implementing the Nitrates Directive in Ireland to date :

           local authorities and the EPA have undertaken extensive monitoring of
            nitrate levels in waters
           the EPA has carried out assessments of the trophic status of waters
           the DEHLG and EPA have reported to the EU Commission on
            implementation
           the DEHLG and DAF in consultation with the farming organisations have
            jointly developed the „Code of Good Agricultural Practice to Protect Waters
            from Pollution by Nitrates, July 1996
           a wide range of actions have been taken, by the authorities and by
            farmers, to promote good agricultural practice and otherwise to protect
            water quality against pollution by agriculture (and by other sectors)
           the national territory has been statutorily designated for the purposes of
            Articles 3(5) and 5 of Council Directive 91/676/EEC i.e. the area in relation
            to which an action programme will be established and implemented, and



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           extensive consultations have taken place with interested parties in relation
            to the measures to be incorporated in a national action programme on
            nitrates, including two rounds of formal consultation on drafts of a
            programme in 2003/2004.

Water quality monitoring for the purposes of the Nitrates Directive included an
extensive programme of monitoring of surface freshwaters and ground waters carried
out by local authorities in 1992 / 1993 and again in 1997 / 1998. The latter monitoring
programme indicated elevated nitrate levels in certain waters and further investigations
were carried out in 1999. Subsequently, an expert panel was established to carry out
a comprehensive evaluation of these results. In July 2000, 14 groundwaters in
Counties Carlow, Cork, Kerry, Louth and Waterford were identified as „affected waters‟
under the Nitrates Directive.

In March 2001, the EPA, completed an assessment of the results of a survey of water
quality in Ireland‟s estuaries and bays (An Assessment of the Trophic Status of
Estuaries and Bays in Ireland, March 2001, EPA) and concluded that 17 estuarine
waterbodies were eutrophic or potentially eutrophic due to excess inputs of nitrogen
and/or phosphorus. The survey and assessment provided, for the first time, specific
objective criteria and a sufficient body of information for a reliable assessment to be
made of the trophic status of Ireland‟s estuaries and bays.

A wide range of other measures has been taken in various sectors for the promotion of
good agricultural practice and for protection of water quality and the environment
generally against pollution. These are described in the following paragraphs.


Agricultural Sector

Measures taken in the agricultural sector include obligatory, advisory and voluntary
measures.

The obligatory / statutory measures include:-

         local authority bye-laws in relation to agricultural activities
         issue of “section 12 notices” and related farm inspections by local authorities
          under the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts
         appropriate conditions applied by local authorities / An Bord Pleanala in the
          context of planning permissions
         integrated pollution control (IPPC) licensing by EPA of intensive pig-rearing
          and poultry-rearing units, and
         the rules for Good Farming Practice applicable to farmers claiming aid under
          direct payment and other national schemes operated by DAF.

The advisory measures include:-

         national farm advisory service, Teagasc
         nutrient management advice.

The voluntary measures include :-


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          significant investment by farmers in waste storage capacity and other
           infrastructure for environmental protection supported by funding under the
           Farm Waste Management Scheme (previously the Control of Farmyard
           Pollution Scheme) operated by DAF
          a significant reduction in the use of chemical fertilisers
          the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS operated by DAF). There
           are currently over 45,000 participants in REPS and all of these follow farm-
           specific nutrient management plans and already farm within the 170kg
           nitrogen, from livestock manure, limit. The number of REPS participants is
           projected to increase to approximately 59,000 by end 2006.


Other Sectors

Appropriate measures are and will continue to be taken to prevent water pollution by
the non-farming sectors. Industrial, commercial and certain domestic discharges to
water have been subject to licensing under the Local Government (Water Pollution)
Acts since the 1970s. Controls on industrial activities were intensified by the
introduction of IPC licensing under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992.

Updated statutory standards were applied to discharges from local authority sewage
treatment plants in 1994 under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations (now
S.I. 254 of 2001) which assigned to the EPA responsibility for supervising the activities
of local authorities in this regard. There has been a major programme of investment in
water services by DEHLG and local authorities, with support from EU funds.
Compliance with 2005 targets in the EU Waste Water Treatment Directive, which
stood at 25% at the start of the National Development Plan (NDP) period, had risen to
90% at end December 2004. New wastewater schemes completed since 2000 have
produced additional treatment capacity equal to the requirements of a population of 3
million people. The current DEHLG programme under the NDP for investment in
water services in 2004 – 2006 relates to 577 wastewater schemes with an estimated
capital value of 2.7 billion euros, including all of the schemes needed for compliance
with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. In addition, the programme includes
the schemes necessary to ensure the provision of secondary treatment at every
agglomeration of over 1,000 p.e. (population equivalent).

All major industrial and local authority activities relating to waste disposal were made
subject to licensing by the EPA (or by local authority permits) under the Waste
Management Act 1996

The detergents industry has virtually ceased to market phosphate-based domestic
laundry detergents in pursuance of a voluntary agreement made by the industry with
DEHLG in 1999.

At regional level, local authorities have established seven major inter-authority projects
to develop river basin monitoring and management systems to support implementation
of the Water Framework Directive. The river basin management projects are funded
100% by DEHLG and address all inland surface waters and groundwaters as well as
estuaries and coastal waters. These projects will identify all significant impacts from


                                                                                     7
all sources on water quality, set quality objectives for all waters and identify and put in
place the necessary management measures to achieve those objectives. The DEHLG,
EPA, local authorities and other bodies are working in co-ordination with authorities in
Northern Ireland to secure a consistent and co-ordinated approach in relation to
shared waters.


1.7    Whole territory approach

Discussions commenced in December 2001 with interested parties, particularly the
farmer representative bodies, in relation to the further implementation of the Nitrates
Directive. In February 2002, an Information Paper on Good Agricultural Practice and
Protection of the Environment was issued by DEHLG. The Information Paper set out
the background issues and responded to the main concerns and issues raised in early
discussions with interested parties. It also indicated the preferred approach of applying
an action programme to the whole national territory rather than to designated Nitrate
Vulnerable Zones (NVZs). This approach was considered to be the best option in the
interests of both environmental protection and relevant stakeholders. The adoption of
the whole territory approach was supported by the necessity to give further effect to a
number of other EU Directives i.e. the Water Framework Directive, the Framework
Waste Directive and the Dangerous Substances Directive.

In June 2002, the whole territory approach was given added support by a judgment of
the ECJ which indicated a need under the Directive to address waters which were
eutrophic even where the eutrophication was due mainly to inputs of phosphorus
rather than nitrates from agriculture (Case C-258-00, Commission vs France).

In January 2003, in the context of the national partnership discussions with the
Agricultural Pillar, the Government indicated its preference for the application of an
action programme under the Nitrates Directive in relation to all areas i.e. a “whole
territory approach”.     This approach, decided by Government, led on to the
development and implementation of an action programme which would provide
statutory support for the application in all areas of established standards of good
agricultural practice.

In addition to Ireland, six (of the old 15) other Member States (Austria, Denmark,
Finland, Germany, Luxemburg and the Netherlands) have adopted a whole territory
approach. It is understood that three of the new Member States, i.e. Lithuania, Malta
and Slovenia will also apply the “whole territory” approach. Northern Ireland formally
adopted a whole territory approach by statutory instrument made on 1 October 2004.


1.8    Designation Regulations

On 29 May 2003 the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
made Regulations which formally identified the national territory of Ireland as the area
to which an action programme under the Nitrates Directive will be applied. These are
the European Communities (Protection of Waters Against Pollution from Agricultural
Sources) Regulations, 2003 (S.I. No. 213 of 2003),



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1.9    Draft action programme: Consultation

Discussions with interested parties in relation to the measures to be contained in a
national nitrates action programme have been ongoing since December 2001 and
have included two separate rounds of consultation in relation to drafts of a programme
issued in December 2003 and July 2004. In addition an independent adviser was
appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in
June 2004. The independent adviser reviewed the written comments received, held
meetings with many of the main stakeholders and provided a report and
recommendations to the Minister on 8 October 2004. The action programme submitted
to the European Commission in October 2004 reflected these recommendations.


1.10   Action Programme: Revision

A National Nitrates Action Programme for Ireland was sent to the European
Commission on 22 October 2004. In response, the EU Commission indicated by letter
dated 22 December 2004 that the programme was inadequate and needed to be
strengthened in specific respects. This current revised action programme responds to
the concerns expressed by the Commission and incorporates appropriate revisions to
the programme sent in October 2004. This current programme is submitted to the
European Commission in substitution for the programme sent in October 2004.


1.11   Application for derogation

The Irish Government gave a commitment in January 2003 in the national partnership
agreement Sustaining Progress to seek to secure European Commission approval for
nitrogen limits of up to 250 kg of nitrogen from livestock manure per hectare per
annum. In keeping with this commitment an application was made to the European
Commission in November 2004 for a derogation for amounts up to 250 kg nitrogen per
hectare from livestock manure based on an output of 85 kg nitrogen per dairy cow.
The scientific case in support of the derogation application was prepared by the
Department of Agriculture and Food in consultation with Teagasc. The application is
also in keeping with the recommendations of the independent adviser.


1.12   Achieving compliance

The ECJ has held that Ireland is non-compliant with the Nitrates Directive. The
Government intends to take all appropriate measures to respond to this judgment and
to achieve compliance at the earliest possible date. It is not practically possible,
however, to achieve immediate compliance with all of the requirements of the Directive
on all holdings and it would be unreasonable to impose obligations on farmers
requiring immediate full compliance. It is necessary therefore that the appropriate
measures be brought into operation on a phased basis taking into account the
essential lead-in times required by farmers for necessary actions with a view to
achieving full compliance at the earliest practicable date. This action programme has
been prepared on this basis.


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2.     National Action Programme

2.1    General

This national Action Programme to implement the Nitrates Directive is to be
implemented on a phased basis commencing on 1 January 2006 and will operate for a
period of 4 years. The implementation of this first action programme will be monitored
on an ongoing basis by reference to water quality and to agricultural practices,
including through studies of agricultural mini-catchments. It will be reviewed after a
period of 3 years of operation and, where appropriate, adjustments will be introduced
in the context of the second 4-year action programme.

The primary aims of the action programme are to reduce water pollution /
eutrophication caused or induced by nitrates and phosphates from agricultural sources
and to prevent further such pollution / eutrophication. In addition, a specific objective
is to increase the efficiency of nitrogen use in agriculture using 2006 as a base year.

Consistent with the requirements of the Nitrates Directive, this action programme
provides for a general limit in relation to the amount of livestock manure that may be
applied to land of 170 kg nitrogen per hectare per annum. However, an application
has been made to the EU Commission, in accordance with paragraph 2(b) of Annex III
of the Directive, for approval of amounts of up to 250 kg nitrogen per hectare per
annum.

A draft of Regulations to give statutory effect to certain elements of the action
programme will be issued for public consultation and interested parties will have an
opportunity to comment. The Regulations will be made as soon as possible thereafter.

A guidance document (see Section 5) will be prepared and issued for the information
and assistance of farmers in complying with the requirements of the action programme
and the Regulations.


2.2    Definitions

Most of the terminology used in this action programme has its everyday meaning but a
glossary of definitions is set out in Annex 1 in the interests of clarity. Attention is drawn
to the fact that, unless otherwise indicated, the word “fertiliser” includes chemical and
organic fertiliser and the expression “organic fertiliser” includes livestock manure and
other forms of organic fertiliser e.g. spent mushroom compost, sewage sludge. The
aforementioned nitrogen limits of 170 kg and 250 kg relate to livestock manure only.


2.3    Zones

For the purposes of this programme the national territory has been sub-divided into
three zones (groups of counties) by reference mainly to soil type, rainfall and length of
growing season. These zones are tabulated in Annex 2. The zones are as follows –




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         Zone A comprises the counties of Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois,
         Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.

         Zone B comprises the counties of Clare, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Longford,
         Louth, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath.

         Zone C comprises the counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, and Monaghan.


 2.4      Periods when land application of fertilisers is prohibited

 The periods during which the application to land of certain types of fertiliser will be
 prohibited (both dates inclusive) are as follows -


Zones                 Chemical Fertiliser                                Organic Fertiliser
                                                                 All Organic        Farmyard Manure
                                                            Fertilisers Excluding
                                                             Farmyard Manure
                        Grassland and                                        All Land
                         Other Land
     A                15 Sept. to 12 Jan.                   15 Oct. to 12 Jan.           1 Nov. to 12 Jan.

     B                15 Sept. to 15 Jan.                   15 Oct. to 15 Jan1.          1 Nov. to 15 Jan.

     C                 15 Sept. to 31Jan.                   15 Oct. to 31 Jan.           1 Nov. to 31 Jan.



 These prohibited periods will apply with effect from 1 January 2006 in all areas in
 relation to the application of chemical fertilisers.

 Holdings that have the storage capacity specified in Section 2.5 already in place will
 be required to comply with the specified closed periods for organic fertiliser with effect
 from 1 January 2006. Elsewhere these obligations will progressively extend to other
 holdings as manure storage infrastructure is put in place. Notwithstanding this, a
 general prohibition on the spreading of organic fertilisers in November and December
 will apply to all holdings from 1 January 2006.

 The application of chemical fertilisers between the specified dates will be permitted
 under suitable weather and soil conditions, in the case of lands, other than grassland
 where it is necessary to meet the needs of certain crop types e.g. Autumn-planted
 cabbage, or where there is a demonstrable crop need1.



 1
   An end date of 25 January will apply in Zone B to holdings joining REPS and extensive holdings
 availing of the reduced storage capacity requirements in accordance with Section 2.5.
 1
   Detailed provisions will be specified in the implementing Regulations


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Soiled water may be landspread throughout the year provided weather and soil
conditions are suitable and landspreading is carried out in accordance with the
requirements set out in Section 2.9.


2.5    Capacity of storage facilities for livestock manure

Storage Capacity
Storage capacity on holdings in all zones shall be sufficient for the full housing period
and should provide an adequate level of storage for difficult years. Livestock holdings
shall have the following minimum storage capacity for bovine livestock manure -

          16 weeks in Zones A

          18 weeks in Zone B, and

          20 or 22 weeks in Zone C.

These zones and storage requirements are illustrated in map form in Annex 3.

Recognising the high water quality in counties Donegal and Leitrim and the lesser
intensity of agricultural production, the required minimum storage period will be 20
weeks for counties Donegal and Leitrim. Prohibited periods and all the other
measures commensurate with categorisation in Zone C shall apply to counties
Donegal and Leitrim. The minimum storage period for counties Cavan and Monaghan
will be 22 weeks.

Storage capacity of 6 weeks shall be required in all areas in respect of sheep, goats
and deer.

Storage capacity of 26 weeks will generally be required in all areas in relation to pig
units and poultry units.

Holdings with 100 pigs or less will be required to provide the general manure storage
capacity specified for bovines above, based upon the zone in which the pig unit is
located (16, 18 or 20/22 weeks as appropriate), in respect of the pig unit. The
availability of this provision will be conditional on the holding having adequate
spreadlands, wholly under the control of the holding, to utilise all of the livestock
manure produced on the holding without exceeding the nitrogen and phosphorus limits
set out in the implementing Regulations.

A similar provision will apply in relation to grassland and/or tillage holdings with poultry
where the size of the poultry unit does not exceed 2,000 places, provided the holding
has adequate spreadlands, wholly under the control of the holding, to utilise all of the
livestock manure produced on the holding without exceeding the nitrogen and
phosphorus limits set out in the implementing Regulations.

The capacity of storage facilities to be calculated in accordance with the manure
storage requirements for different types of livestock unit will be specified in the
implementing Regulations.


                                                                                     12
Implementation Timeframe
Storage capacity requirements will apply from 1 January 2006 where the storage
capacity is already in place, without prejudice to any other more stringent conditions
provided under an IPPC licence granted by the EPA or otherwise.                    These
requirements will progressively extend to all other holdings as manure storage
infrastructure is put in place. The storage capacity facilities required for pigs shall be
in place no later than 31 December 2006. The storage capacity facilities required for
all other livestock shall be in place no later than 31 December 2008.


Reduced Storage Capacity

The implementing Regulations will make provision for an exemption/reduction by way
of a lesser storage requirement than the prescribed capacity in respect of certain
holdings as follows:

(a)    In the case of holding with a grassland stocking rate not exceeding 140kg
       nitrogen per hectare per year storage is not required in respect of:-

                (i)    sheep, goats, deer out-wintered at a grassland stocking rate not
                       exceeding 130 kg nitrogen/ha on any day during the prohibited
                       period for organic fertiliser, or

                (ii)   other livestock out-wintered at a grassland stocking rate not
                       exceeding 85 kg nitrogen/ha on any day during the prohibited
                       period for organic fertiliser

(b)    where the holding has a contract for exclusive access to storage capacity off
       the holding,

(c)    where the holding has a contract with a manure processing facility, or can
       otherwise demonstrate access to an approved treatment or recovery outlet.

Holdings operating under (a) above must ensure that out-wintered livestock, have free
access at all times to the required land area and that excessive poaching is avoided.
Lands used for the purposes of out-wintering must be under the control of the holding
to which the exemption is to apply.

The provisions at (a) do not apply to holdings involved in commercial milk production.


2.6    General provisions as to storage management

Livestock manure, other organic fertiliser, soiled water and silage effluent shall be
collected and stored in an appropriate storage facility or facilities prior to application to
land or other treatment.




                                                                                       13
Storage facilities shall be maintained free of structural defect and be of such standard
as is necessary to prevent water pollution by run-off or seepage, directly or indirectly,
into groundwater or surface water.

Rainwater from roofs and unsoiled paved areas and water flowing from higher ground
onto the farmyard shall be diverted to a clean water outfall.

Farmyard manure and spent mushroom compost may be stockpiled on land during the
permitted spreading period prior to landspreading. It shall not be stockpiled on land
within:

         250 metres of any surface water body or borehole, spring or well used for the
          abstraction of drinking water for human consumption in public or group water
          schemes i.e. schemes supplying more than 10m 3 per day or serving more than
          50 persons,

         50 metres of a borehole, spring or well used as a drinking water source (e.g.
          private well) or such other distance as may be specified by the relevant local
          authority,

         50 metres of exposed cavernous (karstified) limestone features such as
          swallow holes and collapse features,

         20 metres of a lake,

         10 metres of a surface water body (other than a lake),

         or within such area as may be specified by the relevant local authority around
          designated ground water source protection zones.


2.7       Limit on the amount of livestock manure to be applied

For any holding, the amount of livestock manure applied to land each year, including
that deposited by the animals themselves, shall not exceed an amount containing 170
kg of nitrogen per hectare. This limitation shall apply with effect from 1 January 2006.


2.8       Limits on the amount of fertilisers to be applied

The quantity of chemical fertiliser and organic fertiliser applied to land shall not exceed
an amount determined by reference to the foreseeable nitrogen and phosphorus
requirements of crops.

The implementing Regulations will set legally binding maximum application rates for
nitrogen and phosphorus based on cropping regimes and will establish a mechanism
for improving nutrient recovery from manures including a requirement for specific
targets to be achieved during the period of the action programme and future action
programmes.



                                                                                     14
The application rates will be expressed as:

         the amount of available nitrogen and phosphorus derived from managed
          livestock manure applied in the year of application using prescribed nutrient
          availability (%) rates and

         the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus applied as chemical fertiliser.


2.9       Requirements as to the manner of application of fertilisers

Fertiliser shall be applied to land in as accurate and uniform a manner as is practically
possible.

Fertiliser shall not be applied to land where the ground slopes steeply and where,
taking into account factors such as proximity to bodies of surface water, soil condition,
ground cover and rainfall there is significant risk of causing water pollution.

Fertilisers shall not be applied to land when-

      -   the land is waterlogged
      -   the land is flooded or likely to flood
      -   the land is frozen or snow-covered, or
      -   heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours.

Chemical fertiliser shall not be applied to land within 1.5 metres of a surface water
body.

Livestock manure, other organic fertilisers and soiled water shall not be applied to land

      -   within 10 metres of a surface water body (other than a lake),
      -   within 20 metres of a lake,
      -   within 15 metres of exposed cavernous (karstified) limestone or karst limestone
          features such as swallow holes and collapse features
      -   within 50 metres of a borehole, spring or well used as a drinking water source
          (e.g. private well) or such other distance as may be specified by the relevant
          local authority
      -   within 250 metres of any surface water body or borehole, spring or well used for
          the abstraction of drinking water for human consumption in public or group
          water schemes i.e. schemes supplying more than 10m 3 per day or serving more
          than 50 persons (commercial/public)
      -   within such area as may be specified by the relevant local authority around
          designated groundwater source protection zones.

Having regard to the special circumstances presented by buffer zones within narrow
parcels of land the 10-metre buffer zone can be reduced to a 5-metre zone where the
area adjacent to flowing waters has an average incline of less than 10% towards the
watercourse. This buffer zone can be further reduced to 3-metres where the
peripheral adjoining area is a narrow parcel of land not exceeding one hectare and not
more than 50 metres in width, or the watercourse is a drainage ditch.


                                                                                    15
The land application of liquid livestock manure (slurry) by a high trajectory splash plate
or sludge irrigator (rain gun) shall be prohibited.

Soiled water shall not be applied to land at any one time in quantities exceeding
60,000 litres of soiled water per hectare. A period of at least 42 days shall be left
between applications.


2.10   Ploughing and the use of non-selective herbicides

Ploughing:

Arable Land
Ploughing between 1 July and 15 January - the owner / occupier shall take appropriate
measures to provide for emergence of green cover from a sown crop within 6 weeks of
ploughing.

Grassland
Where grassland is ploughed between 1 July and 15 November the necessary
measures shall be taken to provide for emergence before 15 November of green cover
from a sown crop.

Grassland shall not be ploughed between 15 November and 15 January.


Application of non-selective herbicides:

Arable Land
When a non-selective herbicide is applied to arable land in the period 1 July to 15
January the owner / occupier shall take appropriate measures to provide for the
emergence of green cover within 6 weeks of the application unless measures are
undertaken to provide for the emergence by the 15 November of green cover from a
sown crop.

Grassland
Application of non-selective herbicides to grassland is prohibited between 1 July and
15 January except where the owner / occupier take appropriate measures to provide
for the emergence by the 15 November of green cover from a sown crop.

The green cover referred to above, shall be retained until the 15 January unless a crop
is sown within 2 weeks of the removal of the original green cover.




                                                                                    16
3.         Record Keeping and Compliance Monitoring
3.1     Record Keeping
Under existing legislation, holdings with cattle and sheep are already required to
maintain livestock registers (e.g. Herd Register of Bovine Animals, Sheep Flock
Register) on the holding in respect of these enterprises. These registers will be
considered as acceptable records for the purposes of maintaining records for the
action programme where appropriate. Suitable other records will have to be
maintained in relation to other livestock. Every effort will be made to co-ordinate and
consolidate record keeping provisions for all cross-compliance requirements, under
the Single Payment System (Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003), including those
for the Nitrates Directive.

With effect from 1 January 2006, records shall be maintained for all farm holdings
which should indicate -

     (a)    total area of the holding
     (b)    net area of the holding
     (c)    cropping regimes and their individual areas
     (d)    livestock numbers and category
     (e)    storage capacity on the holding
     (f)    an estimation of the annual fertiliser requirement for the holding
     (g)    quantities and formulations of chemical fertilisers used on the holding,
            including opening stock, records of purchase and closing stock
     (h)    livestock manure and other organic fertilisers moved into or off the holding
            including quantities, type, dates and details of donor/recipients
     (i)    a copy of any Nutrient Management Plan in relation to the holding, and
     (j)    the results of any soil analysis carried out on the holding.

Records (a) to (h) above shall be prepared for each calendar year. All records shall be
retained for a period of not less than five years.

3.2   Competent Authorities
The Department of Agriculture and Food, the relevant local authorities and the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be the competent authorities for the
purposes of implementing the action programme.

The Department of Agriculture and Food will prepare and keep updated a register of
all farm holdings. Information available to the Department of Agriculture and Food in
relation to farm size, crops and animals on the holding will form the basis of the
register. A copy of the register will, on request, be made available to the relevant local
authority and the EPA, for the purpose of compliance/control.

The Department of Agriculture and Food will be responsible for carrying out
compliance checks each year on holdings (except intensive agricultural holdings
issued with a licence under the EPA Act, 1992) at a level of at least one percent of
holdings generally. The selection of holdings will be based on risk analysis which will
take account of waterbodies identified as being “at risk” from agricultural pollution.
Compliance inspections under the Nitrates Directive will be integrated, to the
maximum extent possible, with other inspections under the Single Payment Scheme.


                                                                                    17
The results of all inspections will be reported in a standard way within one month of
completion to the Paying Agency for the Single Payment Scheme and, where
appropriate to the relevant local authority and / or the EPA. Where non-compliance is
found the Paying Agency will decide on the sanction under the Single Payment
Scheme taking account of the “extent”, “severity” and “permanence” of the non-
compliance. The overall results of inspections will be compiled at the end of the year
by the Department of Agriculture and Food and will be made available, on request to
the relevant local authority and the EPA.

The EPA will periodically, and at intervals of not more than two years, prepare and
publish reports on progress made in implementing this programme and will include in
these reports such recommendations and guidance as it considers appropriate. In
order to ensure consistency of approach amongst local authorities, the EPA will issue
guidelines as to the controls to be exercised by local authorities in the context of the
implementing Regulations. The EPA will continue to be the control authority for
intensive agricultural holdings issued with a licence under the EPA Act, 1992. Local
authorities will continue to have and exercise their powers and duties under legislation
in relation to the protection of water quality. Local authority bye-laws in relation to
agricultural activities should be consistent with the provisions of this action
programme.

The River Basin District Advisory Councils to be established in each RBD will include
farming representatives and should be used as a means of communication and co-
ordination of actions which might be taken by the farming community and other
stakeholders to address all sources of water pollution. Advisory Groups will also be
established at county level comprising representatives of the farming community,
Teagasc and local authorities to advise on and address issues in relation to
implementation of the Nitrates Directive.      Where issues relating to checking
procedures are concerned a representative of the Department of Agriculture and Food
will attend the meetings.

3.3     Supervision and controls
Compliance with the requirements of this action programme and the relevant
Regulations will be a matter primarily for individual farmers. The Department of
Agriculture and Food will have the key role of carrying out on-farm compliance checks.
Local Authorities and the EPA continue to have the lead role for enforcement of
legislation on water quality and environmental protection generally. The mechanisms
for the implementation of this National Action Programme by the relevant authorities
will aim to optimise co-ordination between public authorities and to avoid, minimise
and simplify administrative procedures for farmers as far as is practicable. This
objective will be supported by the above-mentioned county-level advisory groups and
River Basin District Advisory Councils.

3.4     Penalties
A failure to comply with a requirement of legislation giving effect to this programme will
be an offence and subject to penalties. Furthermore, where non-compliance is found
sanctions will be applied in accordance with the provisions of Council Regulations
(EC) No. 1782/2003 and 796/2004.




                                                                                    18
4.    Monitoring and Evaluation of National Action Programme

4.1   Assessing effectiveness of action programme

The Nitrates Directive requires Member States to draw up and implement suitable
monitoring programmes to assess the effectiveness of their action programmes. This
monitoring must relate to the effectiveness of the action programmes in terms of
protecting and improving water quality and in terms of improving agricultural practice.

In terms of water quality the Directive (Article 5.6) requires Ireland to monitor waters
(surface and groundwaters) at selected measuring points which make it possible to
establish the extent of pollution in the waters from agricultural sources. The Guidelines
for Monitoring prepared for the Commission, suggest that the monitoring programme
should also consist of elements which:

            Assess the position in those waters particularly at risk

            Assess the tendency to eutrophication in surface waters and

            Assess the effectiveness or otherwise of the action programme in the
             short-term by means of detailed studies at on-farm and small catchment
             levels, given the relatively long period which may elapse before
             significant impacts can be expected in the larger rivers and lakes.

In view of these recommendations, the programme of monitoring proposed for Ireland
will assess the impact of the discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus compounds from
point and non-point agricultural sources and will consist of three main parts as follows:

            A general monitoring programme for representative surface and
             groundwaters designed to provide the overall position of nitrate levels in
             these waters and of the tendency to eutrophication in the surface waters,
             thereby allowing an assessment to be made of the impact of the action
             programme measures on these waters;

            A localised monitoring programme to measure the nitrate levels and
             the tendency to eutrophication in waters particularly at risk, thereby
             allowing an assessment to be made of the impact of the action
             programme measures on these waters, and

            A monitoring programme to check the implementation of the action
             programme measures at individual holding level, allied with mini-
             catchment studies to assess the short-term impact of these measures
             on adjacent waters

A description of the monitoring programmes is given below.




                                                                                   19
4.2    General Monitoring Programme

The quality of the surface waters has been monitored on a systematic basis since the
early 1970s. Monitoring of water quality is primarily carried out through surveys by
local authorities and the EPA with inputs from other bodies such as the Central
Fisheries Board. The EPA alone surveys some 13,000km of river channel, 304 lakes
and in addition Ireland‟s estuaries, coastal waters and groundwaters. The results of
this work, along with monitoring carried out by local authorities, the Marine Institute
and the Central and Regional Fisheries Boards are compiled on a triennial basis to
give a picture of water quality in Ireland. The most recent report in this series relates
to the period 2001 – 2003. In terms of the Water Framework Directive, the EPA has
been assigned a lead role in relation to the co-ordination of measures by local
authorities, including monitoring, for the purposes of implementation of the Directive.
In addition the EPA has been assigned the task of establishing a programme of
monitoring of water status which is an extension of its existing role under the EPA Act.
One of the objectives of the river basin projects is to develop an integrated monitoring
system for the river basin district which will be consistent with the need of the projects
and the long-term requirements of the various statutory agencies. An important part of
this integrated system is the monitoring of measures included in the programme of
measures for the project, which includes measures taken under the Nitrates Directive
(Annex VI: 2000/60/EC).

Systematic monitoring of groundwater quality commenced more recently, the first
national survey being completed in 1996. The data arising from these surveys is
considered to provide a representative picture of the current situation regarding nitrate
levels in surface and groundwaters and of the tendency to eutrophication in the
surface waters.

Rivers
It is proposed that, for the purposes of the Directive, the general position in rivers in
respect of nitrate levels and the tendency to eutrophication will be based on monitoring
data from the sampling points designated for the Eurowaternet data exchange
scheme. These locations were chosen to give a representative picture of the water
quality conditions in the river system and the resultant monitoring data were used in
the “Article 10 report” under the Nitrates Directive submitted by Ireland for the 1996-
1999 period. In addition to nitrate levels, measurements of phosphate and ammonia
are made at these points as well as routine parameters such as pH, dissolved oxygen
and conductivity. Sampling frequency is intended to be monthly at these locations.

Biological assessment of the tendency to eutrophication at the same locations is
based on a biotic index system, which relies chiefly on the diversity of the
macroinvertebrate fauna but which also takes into account the macrophytes and
macroalgae. This assessment is made at three-year intervals. Work is in hand on the
development of additional biological parameters to be added after 2005 in order to
meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.

Lakes
The monitoring of lake waters for the purposes of the Directive is also based on the
sites included in the Eurowaternet scheme. Some modifications have been made to
the original list of lake waters submitted to the European Environment Agency in order


                                                                                    20
to include additional waters used for abstractions for drinking waters or which have
special protection status. Physico-chemical parameters specified for measurement in
lake waters are the same as those for rivers but with the addition of total phosphorus.

The biological assessment of the tendency to eutrophication in these waters is based
mainly on chlorophyll concentration as a surrogate for algal biomass; this is
supplemented with measurements of water transparency and dissolved oxygen
content of the hypolimnion during periods of thermal stratification. As in the case of
rivers, work is in hand on the development of additional biological parameters to be
added after 2005 in order to meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.

Currently, lake sampling is concentrated on the expected periods of peak algal growth,
viz. Spring and late Summer, the maximum frequency of sampling being four times per
annum. This is considered sufficient to monitor the trophic status of the lake and
detect any tendency to eutrophication. In order to record the highest annual levels of
nitrate, sampling of the lake outlets will be carried out in late Winter before the
commencement of the Spring growth of diatoms.

Tidal Waters
The current monitoring of tidal waters is mainly based on annual surveys of some 25
estuaries/coastal waters. These surveys are mainly intended to assess eutrophication
tendencies. The main physico-chemical parameters of water quality measured are
phosphates, nitrates, ammonia and dissolved oxygen.

The biological assessment of the tendency to eutrophication in these waters is based
mainly on chlorophyll concentrations and examination of phytoplankton. A special
sampling programme is carried out by the Marine Institute in shellfish growing areas in
order to detect any build-up of the of toxin-producing algae. As in the case of rivers
and lakes, work is in hand on the development of additional biological parameters to
be added after 2005 in order to meet the requirements of the Water Framework
Directive.

The estuarine/coastal water survey work is concentrated in the Summer months when
nuisance growths are most likely to occur. However, in order to ensure the recording
of the highest annual levels of nitrate, it is intended to complement the foregoing with
sampling in the upper parts (low salinity) of the estuaries in late Winter each year. The
monitoring of toxin-producing algae in shellfish growing areas is carried out weekly.

Groundwaters
The quality of groundwaters at national level is monitored at some 300 existing
boreholes and springs used as drinking water supply sources. The emphasis in the
programme is on the levels of nitrates and faecal coliforms as the main indicators of
the contamination of these waters. Other parameters measured include ammonia, iron
and manganese.

Sampling of groundwaters is carried out twice per annum, once each in the periods of
low and high water levels. It is considered that this frequency is adequate for the
determination of the overall situation regarding nitrate levels in groundwaters.




                                                                                   21
Drinking Water Monitoring
In view of the fact that nitrate is not removed in the course of the treatment of raw
waters for supply, the data arising from the monitoring of drinking water quality provide
a further body of information on nitrate levels in surface and groundwaters. These data
will be used to complement the direct measurements on the latter waters described
above in assessing the extent of nitrate contamination and the impact of the action
programme, especially in groundwaters.


4.3    Localised monitoring of waters in higher-risk areas

Rationale
In order to determine the impact of the action programme on waters in areas
considered to be at higher risk of nitrate contamination, it is intended to carry out
additional monitoring of selected rivers in the east and south-east of the country.
These areas have the highest proportion of agricultural land in the State given over to
arable crops. Previous research2 has shown a statistically significant positive
correlation between nitrate levels and the proportion of land under tillage in south-east
catchments. Nitrate levels in the rivers in these areas are generally greater than in
other regions and have also shown an upward trend from the commencement of
monitoring in the late 1970s, at least until recent years. The following additional
monitoring will be undertaken in this area.

Rivers
Monitoring will be undertaken at sampling points, not in the Eurowaternet set referred
to above, which have exhibited relatively high nitrate levels over the last twenty years.
In particular, locations at which abstractions for public water supply are taken will be
included.

In order to complement this assessment of river nitrate levels and trends, the work
undertaken in the area for the purposes of the OSPAR Comprehensive Riverine Input
Study will be reported in the context of the Directive. This work comprises the
assessment of the loads of pollutants, including nitrates, at the freshwater limits of the
main rivers draining the area. The current sampling regime will be upgraded to allow
an improved assessment of the trends in riverine loads entering the estuaries
concerned in future years.

Lakes
There are relatively few natural lakes in the east and south-east areas. Some lakes
are used for water supply and these will be included in this element of the monitoring
programme. The level of monitoring will be as described above for the General
Programme but additional sampling will be undertaken at times of high flows where
this is feasible.




2
  Neill, M., 1989. Nitrate concentrations in river waters in the south-east of Ireland and their
relationships with agricultural practice. Water Research 23, 1339-1355.


                                                                                         22
Tidal Waters
All of the larger estuaries/coastal waters in the south-east are included in the General
Programme outlined above and, with the exception of some coastal lagoons which
show markedly eutrophic conditions, it is considered unnecessary to add further tidal
waters in the area for this part of the monitoring programme.

Groundwaters
Since the General Programme described above includes all of the sampling locations
currently used for the national assessment of the quality of these waters it is not
proposed to add any specifically for this element of the monitoring regime in the east
and south east. However, the sampling locations in these areas will be kept under
review to determine where additional sampling might be warranted to further elucidate
nitrate trends in groundwaters, with particular emphasis on those used for the supply
of drinking water. An ongoing appraisal will also be made of the sampling points in the
areas (e.g. North County Cork), originally considered in the context of designating
vulnerable zones in accordance with Article 3 and which are included in the General
Monitoring Programme.


4.4    Monitoring impact of action programme measures on holdings at mini-
       catchment levels

Agricultural Practice - Monitoring and Evaluation of the Action Programme
The model proposed for the monitoring and evaluation of Ireland‟s action programme
consists of:-

             collection of accurate baseline data,
             implementation of the Action Programme measures,
             collection of data over the monitoring period, and
             evaluation of the effectiveness of change in indicators of farm
              management practices and water quality, by comparison of baseline
              data, targets levels and limits with collected data after implementation.

An important output from the process will be the ability to identify which action
programme measures are effective, and which measures might need modification to
achieve the objectives of the Directive.

Monitoring Programme
There will be two components to the monitoring and evaluation of the Action
Programme. The first is based on information specifically generated for the purpose of
the evaluation process and on available national indicators and statistics. The second
involves comprehensive monitoring and evaluation programmes in agricultural mini-
catchments. The output of these two monitoring programmes in conjunction with the
water quality monitoring data will meet the Commission‟s reporting guidelines for
evaluating the temporal trends in aquatic environment and agricultural practice

National Indicators and Statistics
There are available two important national initiatives in relation to provision of national
indicators for the monitoring programme. These are the farm facilities survey and the
fertiliser use survey and are described below.


                                                                                     23
Farm Facilities Survey: Teagasc in conjunction with Department of Agriculture and
Food will conduct the national Farm Facilities Survey to establish baseline data on
farm facilities and managements relating to manure, dirty water and fodder systems.
The survey data will initially provide baseline information on farm facilities and
practices that will be used as indicators in the Action Programme evaluation process.
Subsequent surveys will provide data that will be used to monitor and evaluate the
expected/targeted change in relation to the baseline levels.

The Farm Facilities Survey covers all animal types, however, as grazing livestock and
in particular bovines account for the major proportion of manure production the
concentration is on this livestock category.

The survey information collected can be sub-divided into 14 sections:

      1.    Farm Identification
      2.    Land Use
      3.    Fragmentation of Land Farmed
      4.    Allocation of Land Farmed
      5.    Grassland
      6.    Fodder Storage Facilities
      7.    Grazing Livestock Production
      8.    Slurry/Manure Storage System
      9.    Other Farmyard Waste Facilities
      10.   Slurry and Manure Spreading Dates
      11.   Crops to which Slurry/Manure are Applied
      12.   Machinery Facilities
      13.   Attitude
      14.   Pollution Control Investment

Farm Sample Selection: Farms have been categorised in accordance with standard
protocols regarding type and size to ensure that the farm sample selected is
statistically representative of the national situation. The farm sample numbers have
been subsequently weighted in relation to phosphorus output based on standard
production figures. The method of classifying farms into farming systems is based on
the EU farm typology as set out in Commission Decision 78/463. The following are the
systems:

           Dairying
           Dairying + other
           Cattle rearing
           Cattle + other
           Mainly sheep
           Tillage systems
           Hill

Fertiliser Use Survey: This survey, conducted by Teagasc, collects and analyses data
on the quantities and types of chemical fertiliser used by farmers for different crops
together with data on crop area and livestock numbers generated by the National
Farm Survey. Its objectives are:


                                                                                24
            To determine the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium used
             and the fertiliser types used on grassland and arable crops
            To measure the relationships between fertiliser use and a range of
             variables including geographic region, farm size, stocking rate, soil use
             class and REPS participation
            To compare actual fertiliser use on farms with Teagasc fertiliser advice
            To compare temporal trends in fertiliser use between surveys.

The Fertiliser Use Survey includes information on farm management (farm system, soil
suitability class, county where farm is situated, utilisable agricultural area, the area of
forage, the area of arable land) and fertiliser use (fertiliser applications to each crop
type, number of applications and type of fertiliser used). The results are analysed to
generate the required output in relation to fertiliser use by

          Farm System
          Farm Size
          Soil Use
          Stocking Rate by Enterprise (dairy, beef, sheep)
          Grassland - (silage, grazing)
          Tillage crop by soil use
          Soil Fertility levels

Other useful indicators pertinent to the evaluation process are listed in Annex 4.

Agricultural Mini-Catchments
There is a need for an additional initiative over and above the national monitoring and
evaluation programmes to assess the action programme. A programme based on
agricultural mini-catchments is proposed to address this need. Agricultural mini-
catchments can be broadly defined as land areas drained by a river / stream system in
which agriculture is the dominant land use and nutrient inputs from other sources such
as urban, rural housing or industrial activities are assessed to be minimal. In general,
the mini-catchments will be associated with head waters and contain up to 60
holdings. The work programmes will be closely aligned and integrated with those of
the River Basin District Management Systems projects established in support of the
Catchment Based National Strategy developed under the National Development Plan.
These serve as a major input to the development of river basin management plans for
the purposes of the Water Framework Directive.

The objective of the agricultural mini-catchment monitoring and evaluation programme
is to provide scientific evidence of the efficacy of the Action Programme. The
evaluation will be based on monitoring of surface and groundwater quality and a series
of farm management and attitudinal indicators including:

          Farm Practices – soil fertility levels, stocking rates, land use patterns,
           fertiliser and manure management (spreading times, rates and locations);
           fertiliser & concentrate use, outputs, nutrient balances, farmyard surveys,
           buffer zone areas, over-wintering green cover, farm financial surveys.
          Behavioural studies – attitudinal surveys.


                                                                                     25
The agricultural mini-catchments, due to the range in landscape/agricultural practice
combinations they encompass, offer a unique opportunity to generate information that
can be used to evaluate the efficacy of the Action Programme measures. In so doing,
where targets are not being achieved the necessary adjustments can be
recommended.

The information generated will lead to a better understanding of the factors (soil,
nutrients in water quality, hydrological and management) that determine nutrient
emissions from agriculture to water. Such an understanding will be essential in terms
of achieving the targets specified in the Water Framework Directive

Behavioural studies among the farming communities in the mini-catchment will assist
in improving the understanding of the factors which are determining the farmer‟s
understanding of and responses to the controls of nutrient loss from agriculture to
water. The technologies generally exist to address the control of nutrient loss.
However, uptake of these technologies at farm level has been mixed at best. The
output from these studies will assist in developing better approaches to and improving
the focus of the technology transfer strategies.

The outputs from the agricultural mini-catchment monitoring and evaluation
programmes will include:

          A valid and transparent evaluation of the efficacy of the Action Programme
           based on water quality and farm management criteria.

          Elucidation of socio-economic and behavioural impediments that must be
           overcome to implement the Action Programme on an on-going basis.

          An understanding of the hydrological pathways within mini-catchments
           leading to improved management practices and risk assessment schemes
           and targeting of resources to achieve the greatest good.

          The establishment of long term monitoring and demonstration sites that
           can be used for educational and advisory purposes.




                                                                                26
5.        Support for the National Action Programme

5.1       Investment

Teagasc, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Food (as indicated above)
undertook a Farm Facilities Survey to establish baseline data on farm facilities and
management practices relating to manure, dirty water and fodder systems. This
survey gives representative baseline data of the adequacy of storage capacity
nationally. Financial support for the provision of livestock manure storage facilities is
available to farmers under the Farm Waste Management (FWM) Scheme. In the
context of the Sustaining Progress agreement, a single rate of aid was introduced for
most investments of 40% (mobile equipment continues to attract a 20% rate of aid)
and the income ceiling was increased to 450 income units. The investment ceiling was
raised to 75,000 euros per holding.


The scheme of capital allowances for expenditure on farm pollution control was
extended to the end of 2006 and the write-down period of special tax relief for
expenditure on farm pollution control measures was reduced from 7 to 3 years in order
to assist farmers to comply with the Nitrates Action Programme. Further amendments
to the FWM Scheme will be considered when the requirements of the Action
Programme have been agreed with the Commission.


5.2       National advisory service

Teagasc provides a dedicated agri-environmental advisory service, delivered
alongside the mainstream advisory service, through a nationwide network of offices.
Frontline advisers receive technical support through specialist staff based in the
regions backed by the National Environmental Research Centre at Johnstown Castle.
A major objective of the environment advisory programme is to minimise nutrient
losses from agriculture to surface and ground waters and thereby maintain high levels
of water quality. Particular attention is given to promoting efficient fertiliser use and
effective manure management strategies.

Appropriate information on the action programme will be included in the environmental
modules pertaining to courses for adult farmers, trainee farmers and trainee
managers.

Other initiatives proposed include:

             A nation-wide public awareness campaign to ensure that farmers are
              informed about the implications and requirements of the action
              programme. An awareness campaign will be launched at a National
              Conference involving the main stakeholders including the farming
              organisations, Competent Authority etc. The campaign will also involve a
              series of awareness meetings at county and sub-county level.

             Guidance to farmers on the compliance requirements of the action
              programme.


                                                                                   27
5.3   Guidance Document

A Guidance Document on the requirements of the Regulations to give legal effect to
the action programme will be prepared and distributed to competent authorities,
farmers and all relevant stakeholders. This document will explain the requirements of
the Regulations and provide practical advice in respect the measures specified in the
Regulations.




                                                                               28
                                                                                 ANNEX 1

                          DEFINITONS OF CERTAIN TERMS

Following are definitions of some of the words and expressions used in the action
programme –

„Livestock‟: means all animals kept for use or profit.

„Livestock manure‟: means waste products excreted by livestock or a mixture of litter
and waste products excreted by livestock, even in processed form.

„Fertiliser‟: means any substance containing a nitrogen or phosphorus compound
utilised on land to enhance growth of vegetation.

„Chemical fertiliser‟: means any fertiliser that is manufactured by an industrial process.

„Organic fertiliser‟: means any fertiliser other than that manufactured by an industrial
process; it may include livestock manure, dungstead and farmyard manure, spent
mushroom compost, non-farm organic wastes such as sewage sludge, industrial
wastes and sludges and residues from fish farms.

„Farmyard manure‟: means a mixture of bedding material and animal excreta in solid
form arising from the housing of cattle, sheep and other livestock excluding poultry.

„Soiled water‟: means water contaminated with livestock faeces/ urine, farm chemicals
or dairy washings (including milking parlour washings) and water used in washing farm
equipment from concreted areas/hard standings and holding areas for farmyard
manure, but shall exclude effluent from out-wintering pads.

„Land application‟: means the addition of materials to land whether by spreading on the
surface of the land, injection into the land, placing below the surface of the land or
mixing with the surface layers of the land.

„Body of surface water‟: means a discrete and significant element of surface water
such as a lake, a reservoir, a stream, river or canal or part of a stream, river or canal, a
transitional water or stretch of coastal water.

„Holding‟, in relation to a farmer/occupier: means all the agricultural production units
managed by a farmer/occupier.

„Occupier‟: includes, in relation to a farm holding, the owner, a lessee, any person
entitled to occupy the holding and any other person having, for the time being, control
of the holding.

 „Relevant local authority‟: means the local authority or authorities in whose
administrative area a farm holding is situated.

‟Ploughing‟: includes ploughing and primary cultivation. This excludes light cultivation
carried out to encourage natural regeneration.


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                                                                      ANNEX 2

                             Nitrates Action Programme

         Zones and Minimum Periods of Storage Capacity for Livestock Manure

             Zone A                       Zone B                    Zone C

            16 weeks                      18 weeks
                                                          20* or 22 weeks weeks

Carlow                            Clare                  Cavan

Cork                              Galway                 Donegal*

Dublin                            Kerry                  Leitrim*

Kildare                           Limerick               Monaghan

Kilkenny                          Longford

Laois                             Louth

Offaly                            Mayo

Tipperary                         Meath

Waterford                         Roscommon

Wexford                           Sligo

Wicklow                           Westmeath




                                                                             30
Minimum Slurry                                        Annex 3
Storage Capacities




                        20 Weeks




                                  22 Weeks


                     18 Weeks




                                16 Weeks




                                             Zone A

                                             Zone B

                                             Zone C

                                                        31
                                                                       ANNEX 4

Data relevant to the evaluation of the effectiveness of the action programme


              Number of farmers
              Total
              Livestock farmers

              Land area
              Total land area (km2)
              Agricultural land (km2)
              Land suitable for application of manure (km2)
              Total cereals
              Total grassland
              Rough grazing in use
              CORINE land USE

              Livestock numbers
              Total Cattle
              Dairy Cows
              Beef Cows
              Total Cows
              Bulls

              Breeding sows
              Total pigs

              Ewes

              Total sheep
              Total horses and ponies
              Total poultry

              Nutrient inputs
              Fertiliser nitrogen
              Fertiliser phosphorus

              Concentrate/feed inputs
              Nitrogen content
              Phosphorus content

              Investment in pollution control

              Breakdown by category to be decided - preliminary work on new OFI
              data system is underway.


                                                                           32
Weather data (Source: Met Eireann – annual)

REPS participation

Manure production
Total cattle
Total sheep
Total pig
Total poultry

Nitrogen content of manure
Phosphorus content of manure

Organic N loading (kg/ha)
Cattle
Sheep
Pig
Poultry
Others
Total

Nutrient offtakes – Nitrogen and Phosphorus
Cattle
Milk
Pigs
Poultry and eggs
Sheep
Crops

National Nutrient Balance (Inputs - offtakes)
Nitrogen
Phosphorus

Soil Nutrient Status
Soil P analysis




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