EPA prosecutes a Pig Farmer

The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) welcomes the outcome of the court proceedings against a Pig Farmer (“the Licensee”) at Carlow District Court on 30th March 2009.

The legal submissions and the implications of the Nitrates Directive were the principal issues raised as part of these court proceedings.  There was much discussion around the Nitrates Directive (SI 378 of 2006) and its links to the IPPC licensing of Intensive Agriculture.

On hearing details of the offences, the Courts’ consideration was that

· An NMP is required as part of this licence.
· There was no reason to assume that the condition requiring an NMP would  be removed even following a review of the licence to incorporate any requirements of the Nitrates Regulations as an NMP works as an extra level of protection for slurry management.
· The requirement of an NMP works in tandem with individual farmers requirements to maintain records under the Nitrates Directive.

Following the court’s legal ruling, the Licensee changed his plea and pleaded guilty to charges 2, 3 and 4.  In relation to charge number 1 the Court considered that the Agency didn’t gather sufficient evidence to demonstrate that slurry was actually land spread and for this reason the Licensee could not be convicted of this offence. The Court considered that the Agency should exercise its powers under the Nitrates Regulations (Good Agricultural Practice Regulations) to inspect the register held by spreading farmers to verify that landspreading had taken place.  However, the Court considered that this did not remove the requirement for an NMP to be submitted by the Licensee and the Court suggested that the wording of this condition should be fine-tuned. The Agency had already amended this licence condition prior to this court case hearing and welcomes the Courts’ comments in this regard..

The EPA has welcomed the consideration of the court as this supports the existing licensing policy of the EPA for the Intensive Agriculture sector.

The Licensee admitted breaching conditions of its licence by

· Failing to report to the EPA details of the Slurry/Manure Register.
· Failing to maintain a Slurry/Manure Register on site for inspection by authorised personnel of the EPA.
· Disposing of and recovering waste in a manner other than in accordance with a Licence granted under the Waste Management Act 1996.

The Licensee was fined €3000 and must pay the EPA costs, which will be determined at a later date.