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Ireland’s Ammonia Emissions Continue To Rise, Exceeding EU Limit

Ammonia emissions increased again in 2018, driven by the expansion of the agriculture sector, and exceed current EU emissions limits.

River Suir, Thurles, Co. Tipperary


Ireland is also above its emission limit for Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) since 2010, although emissions decreased slightly in 2018.

Emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) and particulate matter (PM2.5) showed marginal changes, while emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) continued a downward trend.
Full implementation of the Climate Action Plan will deliver co-benefits in terms of reducing air pollutants, but even further action is required to meet more stringent 2030 EU emission limits.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published figures for emissions of five key air pollutants which impact air quality, health and the environment. The pollutants are: ammonia, non-methane volatile organic compounds, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

This latest information shows that ammonia emissions have increased each year from 2016 to 2018. Agriculture dominates emissions of ammonia (99%), which arise from animal manures and nitrogen fertiliser. While the rate of increase has slowed over these years, Ireland is non-compliant with binding EU limits for ammonia over the period.

Emissions of nitrogen oxides – primarily from transport and diesel fuelled vehicles in particular – decreased slightly in 2018, while still being above its 2010-2019 emission limit.

Emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds decreased slightly in 2018. These mostly arise from spirit production in the food and beverage industry, animal manures and fertilisers.

There was a small increase in emissions of particulate matter, while emissions of sulphur dioxide continued on a downward trend.

Dr Eimear Cotter (Director of Office of Environmental Sustainability) said:

“Emissions of all air pollutants need to reduce to protect air quality and health. These figures show different trends in emissions of air pollutants with ammonia emissions increasing and releases of other pollutants remaining relatively unchanged or decreasing. Ammonia emissions need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The underlying drivers are the use of animal manure and nitrogen fertilisers which can be reduced through widespread adoption of on-farm measures.”

Lower EU limits will come into effect in 2030. Sulphur dioxide, particulate matter and NOx emissions are projected to reduce and to be compliant, provided planned measures; particularly in relation to the Climate Action Plan, are implemented. This depends on switching to cleaner fuels, technology improvements and a significant uptake of electric vehicles.

While full implementation of the 2019 Climate Action Plan can deliver a double benefit in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, even further measures are required to reduce NH3 and NMVOC emissions to meet future tight limits in 2030.

Stephen Treacy (EPA Senior Manager) said:

“The National Clean Air Strategy, which is currently under preparation, will need to propose measures to reduce air pollutant emissions, particularly where non-compliance with the 2030 limits is projected.
The transport sector continues to be a significant source of nitrogen oxide emissions as a result of growth in the fleet of cars, vans and trucks. It is important that planned measures are implemented to reduce these emissions and decouple them from economic growth, particularly as we exit current COVID-19 related travel restrictions.”

These figures do not include the impact of COVID-19. It is expected that the drop off in economic activity and travel, will translate into reductions in some air pollutants; particularly nitrogen oxides, which will be evident in projections to 2030 published next year.

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“Do Not Consume” Water Notice Issued For West Tipperary Border

Yesterday, May 9th 2020, Irish Water (Uisce Éireann) issued a “Do not consume notice” to several hundred customers, latter supplied by the Carrigmore Water Scheme; after elevated nitrate levels were discovered affecting homes on the Limerick/Tipperary border.

High levels of nitrate in ground water usually indicates an overuse of chemical fertilizers, or improper disposal of human or animal waste. Nitrate, however, can occur naturally in surface and groundwater, but at a level that does not generally cause health problems.

So what caused this problem? Irish Water refuses to comment.

A similar notice, from Irish Water, was issued with regard to Templetuohy village, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, in late January of 2020. Some 3.5 months later this notice appears to remain in place.

Currently it takes, on average, 27 minutes to make phone contact with staff in Irish Water, before being told “We don’t know”. Irish Water refuses to interpret; convey or chastise, publicly or privately, those responsible for “Dirty Farming Practises” mostly causing such high levels of nitrate in our drinking water.

We do understand bottled water has been delivered to those people impacted by the problem, but possibly only to those families with infants, as is usual according to an Irish Water official with whom we spoke.

Irish Water state it is O.K. to wash our bodies, clothing and cooking utensils in water contaminated by human and animal defecation.

At a time when HSE guidance on handwashing is considered totally essential; Irish Water stated yesterday that it was imperative that drinking water from this named water scheme supply is not consumed by infants. They also stated that same water could continue to be used for personal hygiene, flushing of toilets, for laundry and the washing of household utensils.

Note: Boiling such water in this case does not make the slightest difference in terms of reducing nitrate levels and therefore any affected water boiled, will continues to remain unsuitable for human consumption.

Could this be yet another pandemic waiting to destroy our very existence?

Remember our food sources do not have access to bottled water.

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Taoiseach Supports Lowry Request Re. Payments For Beef Farmers

Following a call from Tipperary Independent TD Michael Lowry to bring forward direct payments to beef farmers in light of the current crisis; An Taoiseach Mr Leo Varadkar says that the Deputy’s request ‘makes sense’.

Deputy Lowry informed the weekly Dail sitting that concerns about the beef sector are mounting and cash flow remains a serious concern for farmers during the Covid-19 crisis.

Deputy Lowry suggested to An Taoiseach that EU direct payments, which are due to be made in October, should be brought forward to July to help alleviate at least some of that financial pressure.

“Prices have slumped. Cash-flow is now a major issue for beef farmers both in Tipperary and around the country. Could your Government commit to bringing forward direct payments to beef farmers from October to July this year?” asked Deputy Lowry.

In response, An Taoiseach stated, “They are EU funds. The farmers would be getting them anyway so it might make sense to bring it forward. It’s not money they wouldn’t be getting anyway, but it might at least help with cash-flow.”

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Lowry Highlights Need For Funding For Farm Safety Schemes

Tipperary Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry pictured here with Mrs Imelda Walsh (Chairperson North Tipperary IFA) and Mr Michael Kennedy (Vice Chairperson North Tipperary IFA)

There are many issues facing farmers at this time. The need to minimise the impact of CAP Reform; the fight to get fair pricing for farm produce; calls to stop the exporting of live animals and farmers being asked to set aside land for forestry; just a few of the problems that farmers have raised consistently throughout this Election Campaign.

Deputy Lowry has consistently worked for a better deal for farmers and promoted a greater understanding of the challenges being faced by rural Ireland.

The vital issue of ‘Farm Safety’ is one that has not received sufficient attention in the media throughout the Campaign, but is one that Deputy Lowry is determined to make a priority if re-elected. He is fully supportive of the IFA’s call to have a Farm Safety Scheme introduced, under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) with increased funding for health and safety equipment.

Farm safety should be a priority on every farm, just as it is in every other business. A typical family farming situation now involves part-time farming with the day-time herding attended to by a senior farmer, left to handle large suckler-bred cattle. There have been over 207 deaths in Agriculture and Forestry over the last 10 years, (2009-2018) and in just 2019 alone a further 18 persons can be added to this earlier total.

One of the greatest risks to farmers is the often very solitary nature of their work. Regardless of age, farmers for the most part work alone and are often isolated from other people. There are multiple dangers ranging from using unprotected Power Take-Off (PTO) shafts; slurry agitation in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas; livestock handling; loose clothing becoming caught in farm machines, and attempts made to correct problems with farm machinery and equipment without the proper tools and training to avoid delaying necessary work.

Some of the farm safety measures proposed under the Farm Safety Scheme are installing yard lighting, cattle and sheep handling facilities (mobile and fixed), replacing hinged (swinging) doors with sliding or roller doors, retro-fitting of safety rails on silo walls and re-wiring existing farm buildings.

Deputy Lowry says that while the major issues raised during the Election Campaign are of huge importance to the future of farming in Tipperary and throughout Ireland, action must be taken to ensure that famers are safe in their place of work. “A properly funded Farm Safety Scheme is a matter of urgency”, says Deputy Lowry.

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Moyne “Lisheen Lands” Portfolio Goes On Sale.

Lisheen Mine, Moyne, Co Tipperary

Investors and those wishing to acquire certain residential dwellings are expected to show interest in the sale of a large land holding of some 800 acres, latter located in the area of Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

This portfolio known as “Lisheen Lands” comprises a mix of industrial and agricultural land, and comes with the benefit of not only significant income through renewable energy, but also agricultural enterprises including outbuildings and residential dwellings.

The Lisheen Mine near Moyne ceased its operations back in 2015 and the property has since been returned to a brownfield industrial site.

The entire portfolio is now being placed on the market initially in one single lot by Dublin estate agents Knight Frank, at a guide price of an expected €11 million Euros.

These lands are officially designated as the National Bioeconomy Campus where renewable biological resources from land and sea are being used to produce energy, food and materials.

Here the area has been awarded “Modern Demonstrator Region” status by the European Commission, making it one of only six such regions within the EU to be granted this status.

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