Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has received a reply from the NI Environment Agency in response to concerns he raised on the difficulties facing farmers spreading slurry before the commencement of the closed period.
Mr Irwin said that whilst there was the clause of ‘reasonable excuse’ this was seen by NIEA as the ‘last resort’ and would be very tightly monitored in all circumstances.
“It shows clearly just how unpractical this unwieldy piece of EU legislation is, especially in our wet climate here in Northern Ireland. This legislation leaves very little room for manoeuvre for farmers who find themselves with a real difficulty in getting slurry out in what has been extremely wet conditions of late in some areas,” he said.
“The Department are advising strongly that farmers exhaust all other options for slurry management including export, additional storage rental and clean/dirty water separation. The Department also stress that the first point of contact for farmers should be CAFRE’s Knowledge Advisory Service and DAERA on 0300 2007842 for questions in this regard.
“For someone taking the last resort of spreading NIEA state this should be on low risk land and all spreading directives are adhered to. NIEA have stated that evidence will be required that this is indeed a last resort and lands will be subject to inspection follow up. There is assistance and help with guidelines for farmers using the clause of reasonable excuse. Given the stringent advice of NIEA I would urge farmers to seek departmental advice and ensure they have exhausted all other options in regards to slurry management.”