The High Court has approved an order for the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) and four of its members to join the upcoming court review of Ireland’s fifth nitrates action programme (NAP) as notice parties.

This order will give the IFA the chance to participate fully in the case, which will see the NAP for 2022 to 2025 defended by the Department of Housing, which is the department responsible for drawing up the State’s nitrates plans.

Being appointed as a notice party will also afford the IFA the right to appeal the outcome of the review if it wishes to do so.

Its president Tim Cullinan stated that it will use the opportunity it has before the courts to voice farmer concerns.

“[The] IFA understands how the nitrates action programme impacts our members. We will use our role as notice party to ensure that the concerns of farm families are fully heard in the court,” Cullinan said.

Legal challenge

The review is to be carried out after environmental group an Taisce challenged the nitrates plan, which sets out the maximum permissible stocking rates allowed for farmers and grants farmers the opportunity to apply for a nitrates derogation.

It alleges that the plan breaches existing regulations that exist around water quality and the habitats directive.

The nitrates plan also sets out the stocking rates for farmers without a derogation, limits on fertiliser usage and the closed periods for fertilisers, slurry and soiled water.

The IFA said that it has been engaging with the courts system since September of this year.

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