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The European Parliament and Council of Ministers reached a formal agreement on the Revision of the National Emissions Ceiling Directive (NEC). The NEC Directive requires Member States to reduce the emission of air pollutants including Ammonia (NH3) and Fine Particulate Matter, which includes dust from agricultural machinery. Irish agriculture accounts for 98% of Ireland’s national NH3 emissions.

Ireland will have to reduce NH3 emissions by 5% below 2005 levels by 2030 under the revised directive, originally the Commission recommended a 7% reduction figure. In a welcome development, methane has been removed entirely from the scope of the directive, despite its initial inclusion by the Commission.

The existing NEC Directive adopted in 2001, requires Ireland to limit its annual emissions of NH3 to 116 kilotonnes per annum, with emissions at approximately 108 kilotonnes in 2013. However, NH3 emissions were 113 kilotonnes in 2005 (base year for 2030 reductions), and a 5% reduction target means that there is little room to increase NH3 emissions beyond existing levels. The mitigation measures required to reduce NH3 emissions at farm level are linked with the reduction of Nitrous Oxide, an important greenhouse gas. However, research by Teagasc has indicated that there are very few cost beneficial mitigation options, such as shifting from splashplate to trailing shoe.

By Eamonn Farrell

Agri-Food Policy Executive

Tags: Emissions, EU