The Environment & You

In this section, you will learn more about how you can help protect your environment.

What can you do to help the environment?

FAQs on Environment & You

A collection of frequently asked questions about the Environment and You.

Popular FAQs

  • I have observed a contractor spraying pesticides in a public area not taking any safety precautions to protect the public - who to contact

    You will need to contact the Pesticide Registration & Control Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine for advice on this matter.

    Further information is available here: http://www.pcs.agriculture.gov.ie/sud/professionaluserssprayeroperators/

  • When is the application of fertiliser (chemical, organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure) and farmyard manure) to land prohibited?

    The periods when the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited are specified in Schedule 4 of the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014 as follows:

    1. In counties Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

    (a)  15 September to 12 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

    (b)  15 October to 12 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

    (c)   1 November to 12 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

    2.  In counties Clare, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

    (a)  15 September to 15 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

    (b)  15 October to 15 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

    (c)  1 November to 15 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

    3. In counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from—

    (a)  15 September to 31 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser

    (b)  15 October to 31 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)

    (c)  1 November to 31 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

  • What precautions must be taken when applying fertiliser to land?

    In order to prevent waters from being polluted by nitrogen and phosphorus, the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations, 2014 require that you must do the following:

    • You must spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, effluents and soiled water as accurately and as evenly as you can.
    • You must not use an upward-facing splash plate or sludge irrigator on a tanker or umbilical system for spreading organic fertiliser or soiled water.
    • You must not spread organic fertilisers or soiled water from a road or passageway, even if the road or passageway is on your own holding.
    • You must not spread chemical fertilisers, livestock manure, soiled water or other organic fertilisers when:
      • The land is waterlogged;
      • The land is flooded, or it is likely to flood;
      • The land is frozen, or covered with snow;
      • Heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours (you must check the forecasts from Met Éireann).
      • The ground slopes steeply and there is a risk of water pollution when factors such as surface run-off pathways, the presence of land drain, the absence of hedgerows to mitigate surface flow, soil condition and ground cover are taken into account.
      • You must not spread chemical fertiliser on land within 2 metres of a surface watercourse.

    The following table shows the different buffer zones for different kinds of water bodies (lakes, rivers, wells etc.). You must not spread soiled water, effluents, farmyard manures or other organic fertilisers inside these buffer zones. Buffer zones for spreading organic fertilisers.

    Water body / FeatureBuffer zone
    Any water supply source providing 100m3 or more of water per day, or serving 500 or more people 200 metres (or as little as 30 metres where a local authority allows)
    Any water supply source providing 10m3 or more of water per day, or serving 50 or more people 100 metres (or as little as 30 metres where a local authority allows)
    Any other water supply for human consumption 25 metres (or as little as 30 metres where a local authority allows)
    Lake shoreline 20 metres
    Exposed cavernous or karstified limestone features (such as swallow holes or collapse features) 15 metres
    Any surface watercourse where the slope towards the watercourse exceeds 10% 10 metres
    Any other surface waters 5 metres*

    * The 5 metre buffer zone is increased to 10 metres for a period of two weeks preceding and two weeks following the periods when application of fertilisers to land is prohibited as set out in Schedule 4 of the Regulations (check the table and map on page 6). The objective of increased setback distances at the shoulders of the closed period is to help retain as much of the applied nutrient in the field as possible thereby reducing its risk of loss through overland flow. 

    In the case of water for human consumption, your Local Authority may vary buffer widths from those specified above, and will inform you if they do so.

  • Is the EPA responsible for wildlife and protecting natural habitats?

    The EPA is responsible for reporting on nature conservation in its 'State of the Environment' reports.  However, responsibility for nature conservation lies with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

    The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is part of the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government and is charged with the conservation of a range of habitats and species in Ireland. Some of its most important activities include:

    Designation and protection of Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) & Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and,

    Managing and developing our National Parks and Nature Reserves.

     For further information please go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website.

  • Will the Farm Hazardous Waste Collection Scheme be running this year?

    Information on hazardous waste collection permit holders is available from the National Waste Collection Permit Office.