The European Commission’s proposal to update the Industrial Emissions Directive is a bureaucratic nightmare for Irish farmers and will do little to address our environmental challenges, according to Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey.
Today (Tuesday April 5th), the Commission proposed extending the scope of the directive to cattle farms and to a larger number of pig and poultry farms, meaning thousands of farmers may need to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency for an industrial emissions license under strict conditions.
The Midlands-North-West MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, said the thresholds are far too low and the timing is all wrong.
He commented, “Despite promising a lighter permitting regime for farms, I remain unconvinced. It seems the Commission’s solution to our environmental challenge is even more bureaucracy. The Industrial Emissions Directive is aimed at industrial style agriculture such as large-scale pig and poultry units but these changes mean that a typical dairy farm will also have similar requirements. This is a bureaucratic and financial nightmare for thousands of farmers who will have to pay out €2400 every year for a permit. With a wait time for licenses in Ireland currently at 9 months and environmental inspections taking place every 1 to 3 years, I question whether we even have the capacity to deliver what the EU requires.
“The Commission claims the related health benefits from a reduction in methane and ammonia emissions would amount to €5.5b a year but fails to substantiate the figure with scientific data. The directive also proposes that permits be made available to the public on the internet, free of charge. This puts individual farmers under public scrutiny, which – in my view – is an invasion of the privacy of an ordinary person running a small business. It will also lead to serial objectors trying to frustrate the process, as we have seen with forestry felling licenses.
“Farmers want to be part of the climate solution and are playing their part by meeting the objectives set out in a range of national and EU policies including the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Nitrates Directive and the Common Agricultural Policy. This directive ignores their willingness to engage and will only cause more dismay during an already difficult time for the sector. At a time when farmers are facing massive hikes in the cost of fuel, fertiliser and feed, the timing of this proposal is ill judged.