The amount of farm inspections is set to more than quadruple over the coming years, Ray Cullinane, senior inspector in the office of environmental enforcement in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has said.

Speaking at the recent Teagasc water quality conference, he said that a beefed-up new inspection plan, the National Agricultural Inspection Programme, is up and running.

Twenty-one new inspectors are being recruited, in addition to the 10 full-time equivalent staff already working on farm inspections with local authorities. He said additional inspectors will be recruited in 2024.

There were just over 1,000 farm inspections carried out by local authorities in 2022, down from the peak of over 4,200 inspections in 2008.

He said the programme aims to carry out 4,500 farm inspections by the end of 2025, with EPA data on water quality guiding inspectors on what farms to inspect.