Sligo County Council’s Environment Section has responsibility for maintaining the high quality of water which exists within County Sligo and has a team of scientific and administration staff dedicated to this task. The Section works in partnership with all other relevant organisations, i.e. EPA, LAWSAT, Inland Fisheries Ireland, DAFM, Forest Service etc. to achieve their goals. Given the potential for agricultural activities to cause pollution, it is essential to strictly control agricultural practices that give rise to waste. Pollution can result from both point or diffuse sources; point sources result from poor collection, storage and management of effluent while, in general, diffuse pollution typically arises from poor land spreading practices.
Sligo County Council requires 18 weeks effluent storage for all slurry and manure produced on farms. The principal piece of environmental legislation relating to the protection of water quality is the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 605 of 2017) as amended. These regulations, which apply nationally, relate to the collection, storage, management and landspreading of organic fertilizers generated on farm-holdings.
The full text of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 605 of 2017) as amended is available to view at;
When applying for planning permission for agricultural developments, applicants must ensure that they use the most up to date Agricultural Planning Application Form available from the Planning Section of this website or from the Planning Office. Applicants should also submit adequate information as detailed in the Agricultural Guidance Note, which accompanies this form. It is important to ensure that the application submitted fully demonstrates that the applicant’s proposals comply with the requirements of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 605 of 2017) as amended This will speed up the planning process by avoiding the need to request ‘further information’ and will ensure that the proposed development is environmentally sustainable.
In terms of agricultural development; in accordance with Article 7(2) of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 605 of 2017), waste storage facilities being provided on a holding shall;
- be designed, sited, constructed, maintained and managed so as to prevent run-off or seepage, directly or indirectly, into groundwater or surface water.
- comply with such construction specifications for those facilities as may be approved from time to time by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine.
On a national basis the Department of Agriculture, Food, & the Marine carry out a number of farm inspections each year to examine compliance with the provisions of the Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Waters Regulations 2017. This is supplemented by local authority inspections under requirements detailed in national water pollution prevention programmes. Duplication of inspections is avoided through the DAFM informing local authorities of the farms they will be inspecting in any given year. Local authorities have been designated as the responsible authorities for enforcement of the regulations and issues of non compliance with the regulations will be forwarded to local authorities by the D.A.F.M. In addition, under national reporting procedures agreed, local authorities are required to report non compliance issues to the Cross Compliance Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Financial penalties may be imposed on farm payments depending on the extent and severity of the non-compliance.
Education and Awareness
The Council has an on-going educational campaign for farmers in the County which aims to increase awareness of the problems that farming activities can create. This includes, press releases, and an environmental leaflet on good farming practice. This leaflet includes topics such as land spreading, effluent storage, nutrient management planning, etc.
Slurry spreading during wet conditions increases the risk of water pollution. Sligo County Council strongly advises against spreading in poor conditions, particularly in wintertime when weather conditions are poor, soils are water logged and plant growth is low. A combination of such factors will cause effluent to be lost to watercourses. The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 605 of 2017) as amended details strict provisions relating to landspreading activities on farmholdings.
In bad weather conditions there is a high potential for pollution, but adhering to the following simple guidelines will reduce this risk:
- Do not land-spread on wet or waterlogged soils.
- Do not land-spread on frozen or snow covered lands.
- Do not land-spread when rainfall is forecast within 48 hours.
- Do not land-spread on steep slopes or ground with rock outcrops.
- Do not spread from public roads.
- Do not exceed The Code of Good Agricultural Practice prescribed application rates.