An Taisce Calls on Minister O’Brien to Urgently Strengthen Water Protection Measures

An Taisce has today (Tuesday 8th March, 2022) called on the government as a matter of urgency to strengthen the proposed measures in the Nitrates Action Programme to safeguard Ireland’s water quality. It has also recommended a range of actions to strengthen the Programme, and is calling on Ireland not to seek another Nitrates Derogation from the European Commission until sufficient safeguards for water in Ireland are proven to be in place.

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien is poised to imminently sign off on Ireland’s new Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) 2022 - 2025. The NAP comprises a range of measures and ensuing regulations which should allow Ireland to comply with the Nitrates Directive which has the overarching objective of protecting water quality. The Directive is primarily concerned with preventing nitrates from agricultural sources from polluting ground and surface waters by promoting the use of good farming practices.

An Taisce has repeatedly raised serious concerns about the inadequacy of the protective measures for water proposed in the drafts that were made available to the public, and of the legal weaknesses in the environmental assessments. 

Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce says

“Ireland is facing a water quality crisis, with almost half of our rivers and lakes polluted. Agricultural intensification, particularly dairy intensification, is the primary driver of that. Ambitious and far reaching changes are required to address this. 

Once again farmers are being asked to make changes over the next four years which will not be sufficient, and will fall short when it comes to protecting water quality. This is a loss for farmers, and a loss for our rivers, lakes and coastal waters“

“The Nitrates Action Programme is the lynch pin for protecting our water quality in Ireland. It’s widely accepted that we are in a water quality crisis, but the measures proposed are wholly inadequate to address this crisis. 

We know from the Environmental Protection Agency what needs to happen, and where. We know from Teagasc how these reductions could be brought about. The missing piece is the actions to achieve that, and that’s what we’re urgently calling for to be included.”



Further details

An Taisce Policy Paper on the Nitrates Action Programme:

An Taisce's full submission to the Consultation on Ireland's 5th Nitrates Action Programme: