Farmers claim victory over EU anti-pollution push

Farming leaders are claiming a significant victory after MEPs voted not to extend further legislation as part of the Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) Directive.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said it lobbied hard and won amendments to proposed changes to the IPPC Directive in 2009.

These would have seen reduced thresholds for laying hens, ducks and turkeys, affecting smaller family farms, as well as bringing in many more pig farms and horticulture businesses into the directive, and would have extended the control of the IPPC into off-site manure spreading.

Members of the EU Parliament Environment Committee also voted during yesterday’s ‘second reading’ to amend a review clause, which called on the Commission to re-assess whether controls should be extended to include intensive cattle farms and be expanded to control manure spreading. These two points have now been deleted.

The NFU was also successful in convincing MEPs that a baseline report of the status of the soil is only necessary when significant amounts of relevant hazardous substances are present and would not be necessary if other provisions are already in place to protect water and soil from contamination.

However, disappointingly, aspects of the review clause remain – namely, a review by the end of 2012 of the existing thresholds for pig and poultry units and the size of horticulture businesses covered by the directive.

NFU chief environmental adviser Dr Diane Mitchell said: “I am pleased that the hard work of our staff both here and in Brussels has paid off and MEPs have listened to our calls for changes to be implemented.

"Specifically, it was the Council that pushed for cattle to be included in the IPPC and we are particularly pleased that MEPs have voted to delete this aspect from the directive.

"More negotiations are now due to take place in the next couple of months and we will be following these talks very closely and lobbying hard to make sure that the significant gains we have achieved for our members remain securely in place.

"The NFU remains convinced that the IPPC Directive is ill-suited to the agriculture sector and we are totally committed to ensuring that the bureaucracy and cost of this burdensome directive is minimised for those who unfortunately fall under its control."

>> Fight against IPPC continues

>> UFU concerns over IPPC repercussions