Increasing the number of inspections farmers face are among the measures that will be implemented to improve water quality, Minister of State for Nature Malcolm Noonan has said.

Minister Noonan said the soon-to-be launched revised Water Action Plan will allow for this to address pressures on water quality.

He said the plan will include “enhanced inspection and enforcement requirements”.

Increasing inspections is contrary to proposals in recent months by the European Commission to reduce the number of inspections and the volume of red tape farmers face.

Minister Noonan was speaking at the Nature-Based Solutions Conference to Protect and Restore Water Quality this Thursday at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT).

Farming for Water

The newly launched Farming for Water European Innovation Partnership (EIP) was also referenced by Minister Noonan as a “significant measure to help address water quality”.

“The farming for water EIP provides a valuable opportunity to complement actions under the new Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and other programmes such as ACRES, thereby addressing a critical gap to address and restore water quality,” he added.

A revised and “strengthened” Water Action Plan, which covers the third cycle of river basin planning for Ireland up to 2027, is to be launched by the Government shortly, Minister Noonan confirmed.

The minister outlined that it will provide for 46 catchment management plans around the country.

“Building on the work of previously cycles and by incorporating the integrated catchment management approach, the plan will again describe the main pressures on water quality status and set out environmental objectives to protect and restore our water bodies,” he added.