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Minister Coughlan clarifies position on REPS and Nitrates Regulations

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, commented today on the implications for REPS farmers of last Friday's announcement by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government that, in consultation with the European Commission, he had agreed to a short deferral of Part 3 of the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Waters) Regulations 2005. Minister Coughlan said that the short deferral means that REPS farmers do not have to adjust their overall fertiliser limits for the present. "In effect, REPS farmers can carry on as they are for the time-being" said the Minister.

Until such time as Part 3 of the Regulations is implemented, farmers in REPS can continue to operate under the terms of their existing contracts as far as nutrient management is concerned. For REPS planning, too, the existing specifications remain in force.

Minister Coughlan welcomed the fact that Minister Roche had secured some additional time for Teagasc to review the advice they had previously given in relation to phosphorus limits. "One thing has been clear all along in discussions with the European Commission," she said, "and that is that it is science that will decide what the Regulations say. This is an opportunity for Teagasc to provide robust science, supporting higher application levels for phosphorus, that will stand up to critical examination by the Commission's own experts."

1 February, 2006

Date Released: 01 February 2006