An Taisce challenges state plan that regulates amount of nitrates to use as fertilizer
An Taisce has launched a High Court challenge seeking to strike down the state scheme which regulates the level of nitrates that can be used as fertilizer in agricultural practice.
The action stems from the state’s approval of a plan known as the Fifth Nitrate Action Program (NAP).
An Taisce says implementing the plan will have a detrimental effect on Irish waterways and ecologically protected sites, due to excessive nitrate pollution from agricultural sources.
Adopting the NAP, An Taisce also claims, will prevent Ireland from complying with its obligations under the EU’s Water Quality Directive.
An Taise claims that nitrates are regulated at EU level by the Nitrates Directive.
It imposes mandatory limits of 170 kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare per year, on the amount of nitrates that can be applied.
However, the directive allows higher levels permitted subject to a derogation allowing livestock farming up to a maximum of 250 kg of livestock manure nitrogen per hectare per year.
Ireland, says An Taisce, was granted such a waiver, as it was on other occasions, by the European Commission earlier this year.
Following this decision, the Minister of Housing adopted and published the details of the latest NAP, which An Taisce says is illegal.
An Taisce has taken action to protect Irish waterways from what she claims is the serious environmental threat to the waterways due to rising levels of nitrate pollution.
As well as seeking orders overturning the NAP, An Taise is also seeking to overturn a European Commission decision allowing Ireland to derogate from the requirements of an EU directive regarding the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates. of agricultural origin.
She claims that the NAP is invalid and violates several EU directives regarding environmental protection and the protection of waters against pollution.
She claims that the NAP’s authorization was based on an assessment that did not guarantee that there would be no adverse effects on the integrity of environmentally sensitive protected sites.
Nor did the assessment ensure that the NAP would not cause deterioration or jeopardize the quality of water bodies.
An Taisce also claims that the waiver requested by the State, granted by the European Commission on the basis of information provided to it by Ireland, should also be canceled.
A judicial review
An Taisce’s judicial review proceedings are against the Minister for Housing, Heritage and Local Government, the Environmental Assessment Unit of Ireland and the Attorney General. The Minister of Agriculture is a party to the challenge.
In her action, An Taisce is seeking High Court orders quashing the Housing Minister’s decision to approve and publish the NAP.
He also wants the court to make statements, including that by adopting the NAP, the respondents breached EU directives and regulations on habitats, water frameworks and strategic environmental assessments (SEAs).
An Taisce also wants the court to refer the case to European Union courts to determine the validity of the decision to grant Ireland a derogation from standard EU limits.
The case was brought before Judge Charles Meenan on Wednesday.
James Devlin for An Taisce said the documents were served about a month ago on respondents who had already had some time to review them.
An Taisce would not ask for a reprieve, but she believes that if she is right in her case “this is a significant breach by the state of its fundamental obligations under EU law”.
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According to An Taisce, this violation should not continue due to a delay on the part of the State in taking a stand.
The lawyer also said his side had received a letter from the IFA and a number of farmers wishing to join the proceedings.
The judge said he would deal with the leave application with the respondent present in November.