Fight against IPPC continues

The EU Parliament has voted on changes to the Integrated Pollution Prevention Controls Directive, rejecting an ammendment which would have reduced costs for hundreds of pig farmers.

After intense lobbying from farming groups, MEPs backed an amendment to increase thresholds for poultry units, which will save many smaller family-run farms, such as seasonal turkey producers, from the costs involved with the directive. They rejected a key amendment to delete nitrogen equivalency factors, however, a decision which will affect more than 300 pig farms.

A proposal on manure spreading was a partial success after ministers agreed that farms already covered by NVZs will not have to undertake additional IPPC requirements when spreading off-site.

Despite the vote, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and National Pig Association (NPA) say that they will continue to battle against the proposed changes to the IPPC, which would bring hundreds of smaller pig and poultry farmers under the costly and burdensome directive.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: "I would like to thank MEPs and ministers, particularly Jane Kennedy, for their support which added significant weight to today's vote. This has given us clear priorities for the next stage when the directive goes to Council.

"There is still plenty of time to defeat these rules before they are rubber-stamped by EU ministers and I remain committed to lobbying for the amendments to be rejected."

Farmers argue that the IPPC was originally designed for larger, heavy industry such as power stations.

"We want MEPs to recognize that agriculture and horticulture are different to other businesses within the IPPC," said Raymond. "Most are small family-run businesses with limited capacity to manage the very broad nature of IPPC and what's needed to fulfil implementation and compliance.

Charles Bourns, NFU poultry board chairman, welcomed the MEP's vote on poultry thresholds as a "victory for common sense."

"The environmental benefits of regulating free range and small family farms in this way simply would not justify the massive cost," he added. "Many of these poultry businesses will have restructured specifically to remain outside the IPPC. To move the goal posts at this stage is simply unfair."